Climate project proposed in Yellowstone

Climate project proposed in Yellowstone

Source: Billings Gazette
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Gazette Staff

First introduced to the public in a 2014 meeting, a nationwide climate study is once again seeking approval to use two spots in Yellowstone National Park for equipment to collect scientific data for 30 years.

The park is taking comments on the 220 page environmental assessment that examines the impacts associated with the proposed construction and operation of a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) site in the park. NEON is a $60 million National Science Foundation project that is in the process of constructing 81 field sites, according to its website.

 If approved for installation, two sites would have equipment funded by NEON and installed by its contractors in Yellowstone. The first would be south of Grand Loop Road near the intersection with Blacktail Plateau Drive. The second would be at Blacktail Deer Creek.

The sites would feature a 59- or 70-foot-tall 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. It would take four to six months for the equipment to be constructed. Special approval would be needed for the taller tower since it exceeds the park’s current standards.

In addition to data gathered with the instruments, scientists would make routine visits to the site, respecting any bear area closures, and an annual flyover with small aircraft would collect airborne information. Plot markers, tree tags, and equipment to monitor insects and plants would also be deployed within the NEON study area. All of the NEON data collected is available to researchers and the public.

NEON 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.

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

Comments may be hand delivered 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.