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Contact: David Elkowitz, 432 477-1108
The National Park Service (NPS), Big Bend National Park (Park), is seeking public comment on a proposal to construct a ½-mile walking trail to allow visitors to see and learn about the historic Dorgan and Sublett farm site, located near the Rio Grande between Castolon and Santa Elena Canyon. The proposal is contained in a Draft Environmental Assessment that is available for public review and comment.
The trail would provide interpretation of the house ruins and the Rancho Estelle Historic District. There is currently no formal trail in the area. The proposed trail would begin at an existing roadside pullout at the Sublett Farm site and end at the Dorgan House site. Approximately 34% of the proposed trail will follow existing informal trails or former road sections, which would be rehabilitated for this project. The proposed trail has been designed by technical experts with the goal of creating a safe, sustainable trail that would facilitate resource protection and enhance interpretation of historic resources along Park Route 16 (Santa Elena Canyon Road).
The proposed action is needed to address erosion and resource damage caused by multiple informal "social trails" that have developed haphazardly due to the lack of a planned walking route. Trail design would focus visitor use and thereby reduce impacts to natural and cultural resources while improving the visitor experience and safety. The trail would also facilitate rehabilitation of areas that have been damaged by existing social trails.
A Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to communicate a planning process that: 1) explores a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, 2) evaluates potential issues and impacts to Park resources and values, and 3) identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of impacts. The EA also assesses effects upon cultural resources, in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The NPS encourages public participation in the NEPA process.
The National Park Service is making the draft document available for a 30-day public review beginning February 29, 2008, and ending March 29, 2008. Comments will be reviewed and addressed in the Final Environmental Assessment before a decision is made regarding the proposal.
The Environmental Assessment is available for review at the NPS Planning, Environmental, and Public Comment (PEPC) website, http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ and the park website. Comments may be posted on the PEPC site or mailed to: Superintendent, Attn: Dorgan / Sublett Trail Environmental Assessment, Big Bend National Park, P.O. Box 129, Big Bend National Park, Texas 79834-0129.