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Pinnacles National Monument announces the opening of the public scoping period for the park’s Bottomlands Restoration Environmental Assessment – March 20 to April 21, 2008
This Environmental Assessment would update the 2005 Pinnacles Fire Management Plan (FMP) to include newly acquired lands in order to treat yellow star-thistle and to update the parkwide FMP to reflect recent scientific studies on managing chaparral.
To submit scoping comments -OR- to request a copy of the draft document when it is released, contact the park in writing:
Fax (831) 389-4489
Pinnacles National Monument
Attn: Bottomlands Restoration EA
5000 Highway 146
During the scoping period, one public meeting will be held. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with park staff, participate in a public hearing, and submit written ideas and concerns.
221 Old Hernandez Road
April 2, 2008
6:00 – 7:30 P.M.
The nearly 2,000 acres of land recently acquired at Pinnacles National Monument include rare valley oak savannahs and pockets of wetlands, which transition into hillsides of native buckwheat and chaparral. This addition to the park also includes over 200-acres of an aggressive weed, the non-native yellow star-thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), which threatens to spread throughout the Monument and onto adjacent lands.
Studies show that prescribed fire is an effective control technique when used on yellow star-thistle for at least three consecutive years; the Monument proposes to use this treatment on the yellow star-thistle infestation on the new bottomlands at Pinnacles.
Public comments will be used to determine the range of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the environmental assessment.
Issues that may be addressed include: the effects of aggressive weed species on native habitat; potential for native plant restoration in former pasturelands; effects of actions on the California red-legged frog and California condor; impacts of wildfire suppression and fuel reduction projects; effects of prescribed burning on chaparral, grasslands, weed infestations, or air quality; effects of herbicide application on thistle plants; potential erosion, sedimentation and effects on water quality; effects on recreation and visitor and staff safety.
Comments on the following topics are particularly useful at this stage in the planning process:
- Alternative approaches and ideas for accomplishing project goals,
- The range of environmental and socioeconomic issues that need to be considered,
- Other potential projects that might affect or be affected by this project,
- Information that needs to be considered (such as related research) and why,
- Information on your recreational use of the Monument and how this project might affect that use.
The preliminary project objectives are:
- Prevent yellow star-thistle spreading further into the Monument and adjacent private lands,
- Eradicate existing yellow star-thistle infestations,
- Amend the FMP to include lands acquired since the plan was completed,
- Identify the combination of invasive plant control and native plant revegetation techniques that would be most effective for the Bottomlands,
- Establish native plants in the Bottomlands to provide a local seed source for other areas of the Monument, and
- Protect and enhance the habitat of native plant species important to local Native Americans through the use of prescribed burning.
Alternatives that may be included in the Environmental Assessment are:
- a “no project” alternative modifying the FMP to include the new lands, without changing the current FMP strategy, and without a weed control project for new lands except to control its further spread within the Monument.
- a star-thistle removal/pasture restoration project alternative that would also update the FMP to include new lands, managed under the current FMP strategy.
- a star-thistle removal/pasture restoration project alternative that would update the FMP to include new lands and modify the FMP strategy from the current requirement for prescribed burning in chaparral to a management program that would allow, but not require, prescribed burning in the chaparral, if shown by research to have important resource benefits.