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Contact: Jennie Albrinck, 928-638-0520
Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) leadership is seeking public comment on two projects: Construct New West Entrance Fee Station; and Barker Dam Parking Lot Expansion. These projects are proposed to improve visitor satisfaction and to address congestion at two of the park’s most frequented areas. On August 18, 2021, the park will begin a 30-day public comment period for both these projects.
Construct New West Entrance Station. This project would resolve longstanding issues including the long traffic back-up outside the park boundary causing blocking of private driveways and neighborhood streets adjacent to the West Entrance boundary; excessive wait times for entrance; inefficient fee collection, and unsafe working conditions for park staff. The project would remove the existing West Entrance fee booth located just inside the park boundary on Park Boulevard and construct a new station about 0.5 miles away. This new station would include construction of three inbound, four new fee collection kiosks with curbed islands, connecting walkways and shade structures; a staff comfort station/breakroom; and nine-space staff parking lot. More information about the project can be located on the park's website: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/getinvolved/westentrance.htm).
Public comment for this project is being accepted at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/West_Entrance until midnight PST on September 17, 2021.
Barker Dam Parking Lot Expansion. This project involves converting the two undeveloped disturbed islands on the interior of the Barker Dam parking lots a paved parking area for forty additional vehicles. Clearing of vegetation would require the removal and relocation of thirteen Joshua trees to an area adjacent to the parking area. The protection of Joshua trees affected by this project is an important component of this project. Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) recently (9/22/20) received candidate status under the California Endangered Species Act. Under the federal Endangered Species Act, they do not have special status, but for the park, their survival is paramount to our guiding mission.
During peak season JTNP can have over 4,000 vehicles entering the park per day vying for approximately 1,500 parking spots. The formal parking spots in use today at JTNP were developed in the 1990s and are undersized for the number of vehicles entering the park during peak season. When lots are filled, vehicles spill into off-road areas where little shoulder exists to accommodate this use. This use creates a footprint on adjacent native desert habitat. Pedestrian travel from these locations to formalized hiking destinations has created social trailing into the fragile desert ecosystem and/or unsafe walking along busy roadways.
Public comment is being accepted at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/barker_dam_parking_expansion until midnight PST on September 17, 2021.
Last updated: August 23, 2021