After a decade of controversy, has interest waned in Yellowstone National Park’s winter woes?

If Thursday night’s scoping meeting in Billings is any indication, hardly anybody cares. Fewer than 20 people turned out for the National Park Service scoping meeting for its fourth winter use plan.

“The challenge with this is to get people to understand why we’re doing this again,” said Al Nash, the park’s chief of public affairs. “Scoping is so important, and it’s not well understood.”

Nash stressed that now is the time for folks to offer ideas on what the Park Service should consider while drawing up its proposed alternatives for managing the park in winter.

“If you’ve ever thought ‘I wonder if the Park Service has ever thought about …’ this is the time to tell us that,” he said. “We’ll get better alternatives if more people are involved.”

People have until March 30 to submit their comments. On the Web, comments can be submitted by going to and clicking on the link to the winter use plan. Written comments can be sent to: Yellowstone National Park, Winter Use Scoping, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone NP, WY 82190. Comments can also be hand delivered to the management assistant’s office in the Headquarters Building at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo.

The Park Service plans to have its draft plan and environmental impact statement completed for public review by late winter or early spring 2011. The plan is expected to be completed by the fall of 2011 and implemented by November 2011.