The National Park Service is preparing an environmental assessment to analyze impacts associated with the issuance of new concession contracts for guided backcountry saddle and pack stock tours in Yellowstone National Park. At issue is an evaluation of the impacts of those operations on the park’s natural resources. Spokesman Al Nash explains that over the past 15 years, the number of riders entering Yellowstone’s backcountry on commercial horseback day rides has increased by approximately 50% from an average of around 3-thousand to an average of about 45-hundred, while the number of overnight riders has averaged around 55-hundred over the past six years. As part of that process, Nash says the public is being asked to help identify issues or concerns that should be considered in the issue. To that end, a public meeting was held last night in Jackson with others planned in other gateway communities today and again next week. Comments are also being taken online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/stockEA.