Public Involvement: Elk Vegetation Management Plan
Preparation of the elk and vegetation management plan and draft environmental impact statement has required coordination across multiple agencies and jurisdictions to address several potential management actions. Alternatives that were initially developed were analyzed and summaries of these alternatives can be found in the summer 2005 newsletter.
Public scoping, as previously described on the Planning Process page, consists of multiple phases. The first phase of scoping asked the public to identify issues, concerns, and ideas related to the management of elk and vegetation and also to review potential management tools and suggest additional management actions, which were considered in the development of draft alternatives. Comments on the initial phase of public scoping were accepted through October 10, 2003. A summary of the comments received during the first phase of scoping follows.
Summary of Scoping Comments
During the first phase of public scoping, comments were received by letter, fax, and electronic mail; through the Internet; from public workshop results; on comment forms distributed via postal mail, and at visitor centers in the park. Collectively, 1,137 comments were received.
Comments ranged from one word answers to the question asking what the most important issues associated with the management of elk and vegetation were (e.g., vegetation condition, overpopulation) to lengthy technical discussions of multiple issues. During the content analysis process, each comment was considered to have equal merit.
What are the most important issues and concerns you have:
Regarding elk and vegetation management in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas?
The majority of you agreed that there is a need for action regarding the management of elk and vegetation. However, there was a diversity of opinions expressed on how to achieve the management objectives.
One of the goals of the scoping process was to identify issues and potential management actions that had not previously been considered. None of the comments presented any unique perspectives or approaches that were not identified or discussed previously, perhaps with the exception of feeding elk within the park. Typically, the comments on the potential management actions either identified details about what should be incorporated in one or more of the management tools or they combined elements of previously identified management actions in different configurations.
The responses related to potential management actions and the numbers of comments in support or opposition to specific management tools should not be construed as a vote. That was neither the purpose nor intent of soliciting scoping comments. Regardless of the numbers associated with supporting and opposing viewpoints, the take-home message is that the topics, issues and potential management actions/tools that were commented on are important and need to be carefully considered during the development and evaluation of alternatives for managing elk and vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Estes Park region.
In the second phase of scoping, which was completed in the fall 2004, you were asked to review and comment on the draft alternatives (comments were accepted through September 13, 2004). The report summarizing comments received regarding the alternatives can be viewed by selecting the following hyperlink:
Draft Elk and Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement
Comment Period Closed
The draft plan/EIS was released for public review and comment on April 20, 2006. Because of the size and complexity of the draft plan/EIS, Rocky Mountain National Park's Superintendent Vaughn Baker established a 75-calendar-day review period to ensure the public had ample time to review the document and submit comments. The public review period officially ended on July 4, 2006. During the week of May 22, 2006, the National Park Service also held public meetings to receive input on the contents of the draft plan/EIS. Public meetings were held in Boulder, Loveland, Grand Lake, and Estes Park, Colorado where a total of 230 individuals attended.
During the review period, the National Park Service received 1,411 responses in the form of letters, emails, internet submittals at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website, comment forms at public meetings, and petitions.The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Elk and Vegetation Management Plan at Rocky Mountain National Park was signed February 15, 2008 by Mike Snyder, Intermountain Regional Director for the National Park Service. Park staff have begun working on implementing the 20 year plan. The initial phase of the preferred alternative relies on a variety of conservation tools including fencing, redistribution, vegetation restoration and lethal reduction (culling) of elk. In future years, the park will, using adaptive management principles, reevaluate opportunities to use wolves or fertility control as additional tools.
Posters Presented During Public Information Meetings
Purpose of the Plan (pdf 1.12 kb)
Elk Range (pdf 985 kb)
Alternatives 1-4 (pdf 730 kb)
Alternative 5 (pdf 467 kb)
Estimated Costs of Each Alternative (pdf 474 kb)
Impacts on Elk Population (pdf 1.2 mb)
Impacts on Visitor Experience (pdf 836 mb)
Impacts on Wildlife (pdf 733 mb)
Thank you for your participation in the planning process.