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National Park Service Announces Availability of Revised Environmental Assessment for new Science and Resource Management Facility in Grand Canyon National Park

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Date: February 8, 2010
Contact: Maureen Oltrogge, 928-638-7779
Contact: Denice Swanke, 928-638-7329
Contact: Phil Fessler, 928-638-7362

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin has announced that a revised environmental assessment (EA) for the construction of a new Science and Resource Management Facility in the park is now available for public review and comment.

In November, 2009, Grand Canyon National Park released an EA for the construction of a new Science and Resource Management Facility which evaluated two action alternatives. This EA was prepared to respond to comments received from the public and from agency staff. The primary change is that the revised EA evaluates three alternatives, including a No Action alternative. Under the No Action alternative, Science and Resource Management staff offices and operations would remain in the current facility in a converted maintenance yard. This facility offers less than optimal working conditions and is not easily accessible to visitors. Additionally, the park’s 1995 General Management Plan called for this area to ultimately accommodate park concessioner offices and operations.

The Preferred Alternative (Alternative 2) proposes construction of a new facility within the Grand Canyon Village National Historic Landmark District. The building would be designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, improve working conditions for Science and Resource Management staff and allow for visitor access and educational opportunities. The Preferred Alternative also includes underground utility installation, parking and off-site storage.

The revised EA includes a new alternative, Alternative 3. Under this alternative a new facility would be constructed to house Science and Resource Management staff and functions just south and east of the park headquarters building. This site is a vacant, previously disturbed area, which was once the location of a gas station. The goals for attainment of LEED certification and the improvement of working conditions and allowing visitor access and educational opportunities remain the same as for Alternative 2. Parking and storage needs would be met on-site.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, calls on federal agencies to consider environmental issues as part of their decision making process and to involve interested parties in the process. The NEPA process was initiated in April 2009 with a public scoping letter soliciting issues and concerns on preliminary project proposals. Responses to these scoping efforts were used during preparation of the EA.

The EA will be on public review for 30 days. The document can be reviewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grca by clicking on the project name, and then scrolling to “Open for Public Comments.” Comments can also be submitted online at the same Web address (the preferred method) or mailed to Steve Martin, Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park, Attention: Science and Resource Management Facility, P.O. Box 129 (1 Village Loop for express mail), Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023. Comments will be accepted through March 9, 2010.

The National Park Service encourages public participation through the NEPA process. After the public review period, the comments received will be carefully considered before a decision is made regarding implementation of actions proposed in the Science and Resource Management Facility EA.

For additional information, please contact Phil Fessler, Project Manager at (928) 638-7362 or Denice Swanke, Environmental Protection Specialist, at (928) 638-7329.

-NPS-         

Did You Know?

SWITCHBACKS ON BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL

Each year, thousands of hikers enter the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. They follow a route established by prehistoric people for two key reasons: water and access. Water emerges from springs at Indian Garden, and a fault creates a break in the cliffs, providing access to the springs.