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San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains
Special Resource Study

1 Public Start-up of Study Process (Scoping) - Completed

This stage of the study process included opportunities for you to tell us your ideas, ask questions, and help us shape the overall study process. It's also an opportunity for us to tell you about what happens during a special resource study, and for us to learn about the community and the study area.

Sometimes this phase of the study process is called "scoping," because with your input, we are determining the "scope" or overall approach to the study.

The official public comment period for this stage of the study process started when a notice was published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2005. The NPS hosted five public meetings and gave numerous presentations to stakeholder groups in order to introduce the study, explain the study process and inform the public and interested parties about how to participate in the study. The public comment period for the initial scoping phase of the study ended May 20, 2005;

Thanks to everyone who submitted comments during the initial public comment period, including letters, e-mails, comment forms, and participation at public and stakeholder meetings. The NPS study team analyzed and summarized the comments, and has published a summary of the comments in a newsletter. (See newsletter #2). Public comments are welcome throughout the entire study process.

Some of the public comments suggest changes to the scope of the study, including changes to map of the study area. The NPS study team developed a proposal for refining the scope of the study, including the map of the study area, based on considerations such as:

  • legislative language and intent (guidance in the law that directed the NPS to conduct this study)
  • public comments (requests and suggestions from agencies, organizations, elected officials and the public)
  • political and jurisdictional boundaries
  • ecological systems (connected habitat areas, wildlife corridors, watersheds, etc.)
  • recreation and conservation needs and opportunities
  • efficiency and effectiveness (how can NPS efforts be most productive with limited resources available)

The NPS study team discussed refinements to the scope with core agency partners and affected agencies and jurisdictions. It is worth noting as well that refining the scope of the special resource study is an ongoing process. Each stage of the study process results in new information that is used to focus on particular areas or resources. (See newsletter #3 for revisions to the study scope and study area).

2 Resource Analysis: Significance and Suitability - Completed

During this stage of the study process, we evaluate the natural and cultural resources of the study area, and determine whether there are resources that are nationally significant and suitable for inclusion in the national park system. The study team conducts a comprehensive analysis of recreation and conservation needs and opportunities in the San Gabriel watershed and mountains. The team conducts this research and analysis with existing information, and works with scientists, historians, local researchers, community members and others who know the area’s resources. We presented these findings in newsletter 4.

Significance: The NPS considers a resource to be nationally significant if:

  • it is an outstanding example of a particular type of resource,
  • it possesses exceptional value or quality illustrating or interpreting the natural or cultural themes of the nation’s heritage,
  • it offers superlative opportunities for public enjoyment or for scientific study, and
  • it retains a high degree of integrity as a true, accurate and relatively unspoiled example of a resource.

This means that a nationally significant area contains the best example of a resource type, that is related to larger national themes, and could be available for recreation, education or scientific study.

Suitability: The NPS considers a resource to be suitable for inclusion in the national park system if:

1) it is not already adequately represented in the national park system or

2) it is not comparably represented and protected for public enjoyment by another land managing entity.

This means that a suitable area doesn't duplicate other areas that are already protected and available for public enjoyment, research, or education.

3 Feasibility Analysis - Completed

In this stage of the study process, we determine whether the alternatives under consideration are feasible.

National Park Service management can only be included in the alternatives if the NPS considers it to be feasible. NPS management is considered feasible only if the area has adequate size and configuration to allow for resource protection and visitor enjoyment, and can be administered at a reasonable cost. Other considerations include land ownership, access, threats to the resource, staffing and development requirements, and public support.

4 Develop Alternatives - Completed

In a special resource study, “alternatives” are possible ways of managing resources within the study area. During this stage of the study process, we work with the public to develop a range of options to protect resources and provide for public enjoyment. Different alternatives might have different goals, or they might be different ways to achieve the same goals. Alternatives may focus on a part of the study area, or may relate to the entire study area.

Examples of different alternatives might include:

  • New management initiatives or funding sources for existing land and resource management organizations
  • Establishment of new “designations” or protected areas, such as state or local parks, national historic landmarks, wild and scenic rivers, recreational trails, etc.
  • Cooperative management among several organizations.
  • New units of the national park system may be explored only if the NPS criteria for significance, suitability and feasibility are met. A new national park unit can only be established by a law passed by Congress, or by Presidential proclamation (for existing federal lands).

The alternatives focus on collaborative opportunities with other organizations, and only consider management alternatives which respect property rights and the authorities that currently belong to existing local, state and federal agencies and jurisdictions.

5 Analyze Environmental Impacts- Completed

During this stage, the NPS analyzes the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of all feasible alternatives, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The current environmental and socioeconomic conditions will be described, and each alternative will be evaluated against this baseline.

6 Draft Report- Completed

The findings of the special resources study (analysis of resource significance, suitability, proposed alternatives, feasibility of alternatives, and environmental impact analysis) will be published in a draft study report for public review and comment. This report will include an environmental impact statement (EIS), environmental assessment (EA) or a categorial exclusion. There will be public meetings and a public comment period.

7 Final Report / Transmittal to Congress- Completed

During this stage of the study process, we revise the report, as needed. Added to the final report is a recommendation from the Director of the National Park Service. Each final special resource study is required to identify the alternative(s) that in the NPS Director’s professional judgment would be most effective and efficient in protecting significant resources and providing for public enjoyment. In making this judgment, the NPS Director will consider all of the factors presented in the special resource study report, as well as the public and agency comments received throughout the study process.

The final step in the special resource study process is transmittal of the final report from the Secretary of the Interior to Congress, along with a recommendation regarding the Secretary’s preferred management option for the area.

Implementation of any of the recommendations in the report is a separate process, whether by private, local, state or federal actions, or some combination.

updated 04/13/13