Park Officials Propose to Replace Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Rocky Mountain National Park staff are proposing to replace the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin, which was destroyed by an avalanche in the spring of 2003. Park staff erected a temporary patrol cabin at the same location in the fall of 2003, so that backcountry management functions would continue without interruption. The original cabin was constructed in 1931, and was located east and downslope from Chasm Lake, which lies at the base of Longs Peak. Chasm Meadows is above tree line at an elevation of 11,400 ft.
The National Park Service (NPS) considers the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin an essential facility for managing this area of the park. The cabin and its environs are located within recommended wilderness. The Longs Peak area is one of the most popular destinations in the national park. During the busy summer season, as many as 1,200 visitors can be hiking and climbing in the mountains that surround Chasm Meadows each day. The east face of Longs Peak, which is known as “The Diamond,” is a world class technical rock climbing area.
In the past five years, NPS personnel have conducted hundreds of operations, including medical assists and Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, in the Longs Peak area. The availability of rescue equipment at the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin reduces the response time and logistical challenges for many of these incidents. During SAR operations the cabin serves as a central staging area and operations base.
The NPS has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that examines three alternatives for the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin and the environmental consequences of each. The No Action alternative proposes to leave the temporary cabin in place until it is no longer feasible to maintain, at which time it would be removed and the area restored to natural conditions. The two action alternatives propose the replacement of the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin in the same vicinity, but outside of known avalanche paths. The replacement cabin would contain about 280 sq. ft. and would be constructed with an environmentally friendly building system that uses waste wood by-products mixed with cement that can withstand the hurricane force winds that sometimes occur in the Rocky Mountains. The exterior of the building would be faced with rock, which would provide an appearance similar to the historic cabin before it was destroyed.
Park staff welcome comments on this Environmental Assessment. Your comments must be received in writing by close of business on March 31, 2008. If you have Internet access, the preferred method for reviewing the EA and submitting comments is to use the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov.
From this site, use the drop down menu to select Rocky Mountain National Park. A list of current planning projects will be displayed and you can select the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin Replacement Environmental Assessment. Review comments can be submitted online. If you do not have Internet access, you can submit your comments in the following ways:
Before including your address, telephone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you may request that any personal information be withheld from public review, we cannot guarantee that we can do so.
All public comments will be carefully reviewed, and a determination will be made whether to approve a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or additional NEPA compliance is required. The final decision will be made by the Director, Intermountain Region of the National Park Service.
If you would like to receive a printed copy of the EA or have questions about this proposal, please call (970) 586-1320.
Did You Know?
If the current amount of total nitrogen deposition measured at the high-elevation monitoring site in Rocky Mountain National Park (3 kg/ha/yr) was the same throughout the park, the amount of airborne nitrogen entering the park would be equivalent to 35,500 twenty-pound bags of fertilizer. More...