Pictured: Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of The National Park Service. 

The National Park Service has announced that Yellowstone National Park will seek comments from the public on an environmental assessment (EA) that assesses the impacts associated with the proposed construction and operation of a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) site in the park. NEON requested the National Park Service (NPS) allow a site within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. The NPS is not the sponsor of the project but is considering the benefits and impacts of the proposal.

NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, funded by the National Science Foundation. It is designed to gather and synthesize data needed to study the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity.

If approved for installation by the NPS, two sites would have equipment funded by NEON and installed by its contractors. The first would be south of Grand Loop Road near the intersection with Blacktail Plateau Drive. The second would be at Blacktail Deer Creek. Key infrastructure would include a tower with sensors, a precipitation collection system with fencing, five soil sampling arrays, an instrument hut, aquatic instrumentation (in-stream sensors, a meteorological station, and a groundwater observation well network), and an auxiliary portal and electrical service.

In addition to the data gathered via instrumentation, contracted personnel would conduct field observations in order to characterize organisms and soil to investigate biogeochemical cycles, infectious diseases, and characterize local patterns, dynamics, and linkages in terrestrial ecosystems. An annual flyover with small aircraft would collect airborne observations. Plot markers, tree tags, and equipment to monitor insects and plants would also be deployed within the NEON study area. Equipment at the sites would collect data for 30 years. NEON data is available to researchers and the public.

The environmental assessment may be viewed and written comments submitted using the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system, hand-delivered, or mailed to the address below. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, July 18, 2017.

Hand deliver comments during business hours to:
Albright Visitor Center
Attention: NEON Proposed Core Site Project
Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Mail comments to:
Yellowstone National Park, Compliance Office
Attention: NEON Proposed Core Site Project
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Public Comment Considerations

  • Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
  • Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information, be aware that your entire comment – including your personally identifiable information – may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
  • The proposed project is an undertaking as outlined under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (36 CRF § 800). As such, we welcome comments about historic properties or other cultural resources that fall within the project area.