West Yellowstone Getting Ready For New Winter Rules - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

West Yellowstone Getting Ready For New Winter Rules

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WEST YELLOWSTONE -

Yellowstone National Park is getting ready to open for its winter season this weekend.

The park opens at 7 a.m. Sunday, December 15 for the winter season.

But with new winter use rules going into effect next year, businesses in West Yellowstone are getting ready for the changes.

"What we've done is we're always turning over our snowmobile fleet and most of those snowmobiles we run, we have about 70 snowmobiles, of those 53 are BAT certified," said Travis Watt, Three Bear Lodge General Manager.

"We bought some snowmobiles that will meet the EPA requirements in the future," said Jerry Johnson, Back Country Adventures owner. "Some are still the models that will be good for just this year."

Starting next year, all snowmobiles have to meet best available technology, or BAT, standards.

Watt said most of their snowmobiles meet these standards. Johnson said he only has 29 snowmobiles that meet this standard, but is waiting to update his fleet.

"The numbers will change, could change depending on how many events I'm able to acquire," said Johnson. "It could mean I have less, I could have more."

Every contractor's contract to operate winter tours in Yellowstone expires this year.

They must reapply to give tours during the next 10 years.

Watt said he is waiting to update his three snow coaches because he doesn't know if he will get a new contract.

"We will make plans between now and then to dictate what we'll do and how we'll do it, but we actually won't purchase or do any of that stuff until we get an award," said Watt.

The new rules give snow coaches until 2016 to meet BAT standards.

Commercially guided snowmobile and snow coach tours are available at the park's north, west and south entrances.

The road from the north entrance to the northeast entrance is open to wheeled traffic all year.

Yellowstone's winter season ends March 15.

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