December 23, 2015
Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431
MOOSE, WY —National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional Director Sue Masica has approved a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Campus Improvements to the University of Wyoming –National Park Service Research Center Environmental Assessment (EA). The project includes essential campus improvements and maintenance of facilities at the research center, whose mission is to promote and provide opportunities to conduct management-oriented and basic research in all fields of science on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The NPS received 11 comments when the EA was available for public review in January and February of 2015 and those comments are addressed in the FONSI.
The UW-NPS research center is located north of Leeks Marina within the AMK Ranch Historic District. The project is needed because existing water and wastewater systems have exceeded their design life and are too small to meet the demand of research center operations. Research housing is frequently filled to capacity during the height of the summer field season. Arranging separate facilities for male and female researchers is often a challenge and over-crowding exists in some rooms, causing concern for safe egress in case of fire or other emergencies. In addition, there is a need to address lakeshore erosion near the boathouse and drainage issues around the Berol Lodge.
The NPS selected Alternative C because it best meets the purpose and need for the project as well as project objectives. The selected action calls for improvements to campus water and wastewater systems, fire suppression capabilities, lakeshore erosion controls, accessibility for people with disabilities, structural and aesthetic protection of buildings and facilities, sustainability of facilities, and a new dormitory facility and parking. The maximum overnight capacity of the research center will increase by 8 people, from a total of 65 individuals to 73 individuals.
The FONSI states that the actions in the selected alternative will not have a significant impact on the human environment, including water quality, cultural resources, human health and safety, vegetation, wildlife, soils, visitor experience, and operations of the NPS and UW. Although implementation will result in some adverse impacts, the overall benefit of the project to research center operations outweighs the negative effects. The adverse impacts include the temporary effects of construction activities and permanent loss of a half-acre to construction. The construction period for all actions will occur between late spring and late fall and will depend on snowfall and frozen ground conditions. No campus closures are planned during construction periods.
The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office has concurred with the finding of "no adverse impact" for most of the improvements and has requested further consultations with the park during the design process for accessibility improvements to the Johnson Lodge kitchen and a Berol Lodge bathroom, as well as for the new dormitory and parking area. The complete plan and FONSI are available online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/uw-nps