|04-24-2001, 08:40 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2000
Member # 2510
Location: Miami, Fl
Plans To Close Salt Creek Road
Plans To Close Salt Creek Road In Canyonlands National Park - Public Comment Needed
- Canyonlands National Park Alert
The National Park Service (NPS) is soliciting public input for the development of a new environmental assessment on motorized vehicle use in upper Salt Creek Canyon in the needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This new assessment is one of the final gifts given to radical environmentalists from the Clinton administration as it left power.
The Salt Creek road (this is the road to Angel Arch)is one of America's premier historic recreational road and could easily qualify for Historic Trail Status. Under a backcountry travel management plan, motorized access to the upper portion has been limited with a permit system and a daily limit on the number of vehicles on the road. However, NPS, ignoring its own plan, has closed the road and undertaken new environmental study.
How did NPS decide to ignore its own plan? Several Wilderness Advocacy Groups (WAGS) sued the Park Service, demanding the closure of all backcountry vehicle access in the Park. Several Access Organizations intervened in the lawsuit and were successful in preventing the closure of several popular jeep roads. However, the U.S. District Court of Utah did order the Salt Creek road closed at the Peekaboo Springs Campground, believing the road threatened the environmental vitality of the riparian system. The trek to view one of Utah’s most spectacular geologic formations -Angel Arch- instantly became an rigorous 22 mile backpacking trip.
USA-ALL was one of the Access Organizations that appealed that ruling.Thanks to the capable representation of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the 10th District Court of Appeals reversed the decision, remanding the matter back to district court in Utah. The appeals court ordered the district court to review the record supporting NPS’s determination to use a permit system for the road. Unless the determination was arbitrary, the district court would have to uphold the road's use under a permit system.
One would think that the NPS would appreciate USA-ALL’s assistance. However, NPS decided to switch sides and undertook legal maneuvers designed to sabotage the appeal! First the NPS reversed course in midstream by arguing against upholding its own plan! Then, after USA-ALL prevailed on appeal, thrummed their nose at the 10th circuit by imposing an emergency closure of the road. The NPS refuses to return to the permit system under the guise of undertaking a new environmental assessment. Why the new assessment? According to the NPS, because much of the road has been covered by new vegetation since it was closed in 1998. The NPS wants to evaluate environmental impacts of use of the road by studying the effects of nonuse. Welcome to Wonderland.
In the meantime, Utah's San Juan County asserted its jurisdiction over the road since Congress grand fathered use of existing roads when it created the park. San Juan County has now been joined as a defendant in the federal court action to determine the validity of its claim of ownership of a 2477 right-of-way. USA-ALL intends to file a cross-claim against NPS, challenge the emergency closure and force NPS to comply with its permit system while any environmental assessment is occurring.
BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
While the court action sputters and pops, we need to make the NPS get real about its environmental assessment of Salt Creek.
The Park Service has announced that they will prepare aEnvironmental Assessment (EA) and draft management plan in the fall of 2001. This National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process will “assess the impacts of a range of alternatives for the canyon.” The Park Service claims that they need to take into account new information from several studies and monitoring programs, independent research efforts and several recent changes in Park Service management policies. NPS has set May 1 as the deadline for comments.
The Scoping Phase of a NEPA process is when the land managers identify Issues, goals and alternatives. The Park Service has identified several preliminary Issues, including:
Type of recreational experience desired by visitors
The effects of motorized and non-motorized travel on the riparian ecosystem, wetlands, archeological features, and water quality
The Park Service has identified a preliminary list of Alternatives, including:
Unlimited motorized use
Realignment or structural modification of the existing road
Complete closure, or seasonal prohibitions and limits on numbers of vehicles.
Public comment during the Scoping often determines the direction of management changes and access to public lands. It is the most important part of the public comment period. Your letter is VITAL if we want the process to be balanced and fair.
Please, take a moment and send note to the Park Service. Whether send an e-mail or a traditional snail mail letter, we need to remind the Park Service that:
Motorized recreation is very important to you and your family.
Angel Arch should be enjoyed by all and not become the exclusive playpen of environmentalists.
Access to Salt Creek and Angel Arch should not be limited to healthy wilderness advocates who are able to hike 22 miles.
Question how NPS can determine the environmental effect of vehicle use of Salt Creek when no vehicles are allowed to use the Salt Creek road. True scientific analysis of the effects of vehicle use suggests the need to analyze effects of vehicle use, rather than non-use. Thus, the road should be open under the NPS permit system during the analysis.
Advise that effects of vehicle use must be fairly studied and not subjected to “junk science”.
Suggest ways to preserve the integrity of the riparian system, including inspections of permitted vehicles to assure absence of fluid leaks, bad hoses, etc.
Insist that NPS document and study the all of the effects of hikers along the road, including footpaths through cryptobiotic crusts, which have been made since the road has been closed.
State that the enjoyment of the park should not be minimized.
If realigning the road would assist more Americans to enjoy Salt Creek and Angel Arch, then consider such approach.
Suggest the NPS cooperate with San Juan County and other user groups to re-align and maintain the road to minimize impacts
Send your comment letter to:
Mr. Jerry Banta, Canyonlands National Park
Attention: Salt Creek EA
2282 SW Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532
e-mail comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The scooping phase is where public comment matters most. Information can be found on the Canyonlands National Park homepage:
Act now to save Salt Creek road!
Utah Shared Access Alliance
Mr. Jerry Banta Canyonlands National Park
Dear Mr. Banta,
Tell Mr. Banta who you are and if you have ever visited, or are planning to visit Canyonlands National Park.
Tell him how important vehicle recreation is to your family. Tell him you are in favor of opening Salt Creek Road.
Use the comment suggestions above to communicate what issues are important to you.
Remind Superintendent Banta that there are many hundreds of thousands acres of Wilderness in Canyonlands where those who desire an experience free from vehicles can go. Tell him that four wheel drive use is a wonderful and appropriate way to visit the park.
Be sure to include your name and address, especially if you send an e mail.
*** DEADLINE MAY 1, 2001***
Source: Utah Shared Access Alliance
Ian, all the way from sunny South Florida where women are in bikinis all year long!