Officials with the National Park Service have extended the scoping period for public input to help inform the development of a management plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the Saline Valley Warm Springs area of Death Valley National Park.
Comments for this phase of the planning process will now be accepted until Aug. 6, 2012.
“Public input is very important to this planning process, and the NPS is extending the comment period to allow for all members of the interested public to share their perspectives and suggestions,” a press release from the National Park Service states.
Comments may be submitted online at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website: http://parkplanning.nps .
Those who do not have Internet access may direct comments regarding this project to the park in writing by mail or hand delivery to: Death Valley National Park Attention Saline Valley Management Plan, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328.
Comments may also be e-mailed to DEVA_planning@nps.gov .
The purpose of the proposed plan is to provide a framework for management of the popular, remote area of the park by “balancing the protection of unique natural and cultural resources with public health and visitor use at the Saline Valley Warm Springs,” the press release states.
The NPS recently hosted three open house-style public meetings in communities near Saline Valley (Bishop, Victorville and Ridgecrest) to present the objectives of the plan and its EIS, and provide opportunity for attendees to comment in order to identify environmental impacts, issues and concerns for the planning process.
The information that was gathered at the meetings will help planners advance to the next stage of the process, the development of draft plan/EIS, which will include a range of management alternatives, each including different options or combinations of options for management of the area.
National Park Service Environmental Project Specialist Mike Cipra said all three meetings were well attended and provided a wealth of information to plan organizers.
“Folks brought up a variety of issues and concerns,” Cipra said. “A lot of people feel passionately about the Saline Valley, and they wanted us to know they want to maintain the recreational uses, the historic uses that have been going on out there. We received that message and feel likewise.”
Cipra said that no official plan for the area will be adopted until at least 2015, and “we don’t have any pre-conceptions about what the plan is going to look like, that will be fleshed out through this process, which is why it is crucial that people participate.”
Cipra explained that the NPS developed a general management plan for Death Valley back in 2002, but wanted to create an individual plan to ensure that those who are passionate about the area will have an opportunity to be heard and have a hand in shaping the plan.
The NPS generally includes names and addresses of respondents who provide that information or comments on its actions, and makes them available for public review following the conclusion of the environmental assessment process.
Individuals who comment on the plan may request that the NPS withhold their name and/or address from public disclosure by saying so at the beginning of their comment.
Commentators using the website can make such a request by checking the box “keep my contact information private.”
“NPS will honor such requests to the extent allowable by law, but you should be aware that NPS may still be required to disclose your name and address pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act,” a press release states. “We will make all submissions from organizations, businesses and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses available for public inspection in their entirety.”