August 2002. Grand Canyon, AZ
On the heels of five successful open house meetings in cities throughout the West, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent, Joseph F. Alston, today announced the Park's intent to conduct two additional public meetings in the San Francisco/Oakland and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore areas. Meeting dates and locations are forthcoming and will be posted on the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) Web page (www.nps.gov/grca/crmp).
Meetings in Denver, Colo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Mesa, Ariz. were held during the first two weeks in August and drew attendance from approximately 850 people. To date the Park has received more than 3,000 comments via various public involvement venues, including the Internet, mail, hand-delivered letters and the open houses.
"We were very pleased with the attendance at the open house meetings," Alston said. "The format lent itself to helping everyone realize the complex issues we face as we prepare the draft environmental impact statement (EIS). There was a lot of discussion we hadn't heard in the public involvement phase before." Alston said these meetings were added to give the public, interested organizations and agencies further opportunity to interface with Park staff, have their questions answered and submit comments. "Many other governmental agencies work with the Grand Canyon National Park," Alston said. "The final results of this EIS could affect their dealings with the Park, so there is a lot of interest there."
In June the Superintendent announced the initial meetings, the first stage in preparing an EIS to update the CRMP for Grand Canyon National Park. The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing the EIS for the Plan under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The purpose of this EIS is to update management guidelines for the Colorado River corridor through Grand Canyon National Park. Current guidelines can be found in the 1989 CRMP. A copy of this plan, as well as background information and public comments received from past CRMP discussions, can be found on the Internet at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp. In developing a draft CRMP/EIS, the NPS seeks public input to reaffirm previously identified agency and public issues, and to identify any new public issues and concerns. Scoping information will also be used to help narrow and define the significant environmental issues and management alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS. Public input will continue throughout the planning process. The NPS will actively seek out and consult with all interested members of the public.
During this process, the NPS will develop and evaluate alternatives to address resource protection issues, potential resource impacts, user capacities, and mitigation measures necessary or desirable to achieve the NPS mission. The NPS will review some key resource issues outside of the park's boundaries that affect the integrity of the Grand Canyon and will consider alternatives that include no-action (the status quo), no motorized use, and varying levels of motorized and non-motorized watercraft use. Issues to be addressed in the EIS will include, but are not limited to:
Major issues to be included in the EIS are as follows:
- appropriate levels of visitor use consistent with natural and cultural resource protection and preservation mandates;
- allocation of use between commercial and non-commercial groups;
- non-commercial permitting system;
- level of motorized versus non-motorized raft use;
- the range of services and opportunities provided to the public; and,
- in consultation with the Hualapai Indian Tribe and other appropriate parties, the continued use of helicopters to transport river passengers from the Colorado River near Whitmore Wash.
Information about this planning effort and how the public can be involved throughout the process can be found in Soundings, a newsletter available on the Internet at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp. Due to the public interest in this planning process, the NPS has decided to extend the public comment period until November 1, 2002. Comments can be submitted by any one of the following ways:
- mail to CRMP Project, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023;
- send by electronic mail to email@example.com;
- hand-deliver to Grand Canyon National Park; or
- provide at one of the public scoping meetings to be announced.
Completion of the EIS process will fulfill an agreement reached through a negotiated settlement of recent litigation between several organizations and individuals and the federal government. The settlement requires the NPS to complete this EIS by December 31, 2004. The NPS plans to restart the process to review and revise the park's 1988 Backcountry Management Plan subsequent to the completion of the CRMP. For further information on this planning process, please contact Jeffrey Cross, Director, Grand Canyon Science Center at 928-638-7759. To be placed on the park's CRMP Newsletter mailing list, please send your request along with your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
RRFW thanks Maureen Oltrogge for this release.