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Contact: Dena Matteson, 573-323-8028
VAN BUREN, MO:The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to replace failing utilities and infrastructure in the Big Spring District at Ozark National Scenic Riverways (the park). The National Park Service is currently analyzing the potential effects of the proposed action on the human environment and wants to hear from the public about how the project may affect their use of the area during and after construction and how the project may affect cultural or natural resources. We are requesting your comments during the public scoping period, which runs from April 5, 2016 to May 5, 2016.
The proposed action would design and replace and/or upgrade existing electrical lines and sewer lines and systems to industry standards. The project would:
·Demolish existing overhead power lines and transformers and install new underground power lines.
·Install gravity sewer collection lines, manholes or cleanout units, and two sewer pump stations. The failing septic tank system would then be abandoned.
To ensure visitor safety, the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins could be closed to visitors for an extended period of time during construction. The extent of closure of the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins is not known at the present time;however, partial use of the facilities would be made available to the extent practicable. The facilities would be reopened as soon as possible to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for park visitors for years to come.
The project is located in the Big Spring District, which is considered a historic landscape and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district includes 16 concessions buildings, 15 rental cabins, and 1 dining lodge—all constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934–1937. The park also includes a world-class spring system, 134 miles of clear spring-fed streams, and hundreds of caves. One rare natural community, dry-mesic chert woodland, and two special status plant species occur near or within the project area. Areas with sensitive cultural or natural resources would be avoided to the maximum extent practicable during construction, and best management practices would be followed during utilities replacement to minimize impacts.
The Big Spring District's aging utilities and infrastructure are increasingly prone to significant and costly failures, including downed electric lines, sewer line blockages, and failing septic tanks. Numerous repairs have been made to address these failures, but repairs in summer months affect visitors, and the park loses revenue when buildings are closed for repairs. Degraded wastewater pipes and deteriorated electrical lines threaten visitor health and the fragile, pristine spring branch located in the Big Spring District. The replacement of outdated infrastructure would preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the area, improve visitor experience, eliminate health and safety issues, and significantly reduce the park's operations and maintenance costs.
The National Park Service will use the information obtained from the public and other agencies and tribes, during the scoping period to determine the level of documentation required for this project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
You are invited to submit your written comments online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ozar. If you are not able to submit comments electronically through this website, you may submit written comments to the address provided below.
Big Spring Utilities
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
404 Watercress Drive
P.O. Box 490
Van Buren, MO 63965
Please provide all comments by May 5, 2016. These comments will be considered during planning process. The National Park Service looks forward to hearing from you.
For more information, call (573) 323-4236 during business hours Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;visit the park's Facebook page, or website at www.nps.gov/ozar.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.