Why conduct a Resource Protection Study?
Beginning in the late 1950s, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) began a process to withdraw public land and acquire private land along the Gunnison River needed for the Aspinall Unit (consisting of three dams, powerplants and reservoirs). Congress authorized the Unit as a component of the Colorado River Storage Project. The lands Reclamation acquired were generally the minimum lands needed for the dams and reservoirs, without full consideration of what would be optimal for a recreation area.
The current National Recreation Area (NRA) consists of lands within an administrative boundary that is managed cooperatively by Reclamation and the National Park Service (NPS). In 1999 Congress directed NPS to conduct a study to assess the natural, cultural, recreational, and scenic resources within and surrounding the NRA, and to identify and recommend a variety of practicable alternatives and tools to protect those resource values and the character of the land. Congress would like this information prior to considering legislation that would formally establish the NRA.
The focus of the study has been to identify the resources and lands needed for conservation and protection, and to explore alternative tools to achieve that.
What progress has been made to date?
Scoping, interagency and public meetings have been held; data has been collected, mapped, and analyzed; alternatives have been developed and refined; and their impacts have been assessed. Three newsletters were published to explain the project background and the alternatives, and to seek input. A Draft Resource Protection Study/Environmental Impact Statement (RPS/EIS) was released in July 2007 for a 90 day public review and comment period. After written comments were analyzed, the document was amended.
A Final Resource Protection Study/Environmental Impact Statement was released in September 2008. The Record of Decision (released April 2009) selected Alternative 2 (Proposed Action) as the Selected Action. In October 2009, a Report to Congress was transmitted to the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.
What lies ahead for the study?
Implementation of the Selected Action will require enactment of legislation and appropriation of funding; however, it will be up to Congress to decide what actions to take, if any.
How can I view the documents?
Go to the NPS planning website – https://parkplanning.nps.gov/cure.
Toolbox of Incentives for Resource Conservation (433k pdf) - A handbook of ideas for neighbors in the Curecanti area of Colorado, to encourage private landowners, local communities, and city, county, state, and federal agencies to work in partnership to manage their lands for more effective resource conservation. Created specifically for the Resource Protection Study at Curecanti NRA, the ideas may be applicable throughout the country.
Curecanti: Great Scenery, Outstanding Resources and Good Neighbors (263k pdf) - Ideas about how agencies and landowners can work together to maintain the outstanding qualities that are commonly valued. Created specifically for the Resource Protection Study at Curecanti NRA, the ideas may be applicable throughout the country.