Torrey, UT – The National Park Service (NPS) has begun development of a plan for the management of livestock grazing and trailing within Capitol Reef National Park (CRNP) and is seeking public input. Following discussions with agency experts, including our cooperators, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Richfield Field Office, the State of Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, Emery County, Garfield County and Wayne County, the NPS is now initiating public scoping for a livestock grazing and trailing management plan and environmental impact statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Public scoping is the first step to involving the public in the planning process. Scoping provides opportunities for identifying public concerns early and focusing the analysis on the important issues.
Grazing and cattle trailing on public lands has a long history in the Capitol Reef area and on allotments inside what became park boundaries. When Congress established Capitol Reef as a National Park in 1971, it recognized that grazing and trailing were valid existing uses and provided for livestock grazing and trailing to continue with conditions on park lands, with an eventual phase-out of grazing. These privileges were granted to existing permit holders, subject to appropriate management by the NPS to encourage the protection of the park’s natural and cultural resource values. CRNP currently operates under Public Law 100-446, passed in September of 1988, which extended grazing privileges for the lifetime of the 1971 permit holders and their children born on or before December 18, 1971.
“It is our goal, through this planning effort, to create a cooperative, comprehensive and collaborative public approach that guides NPS managers and our permit holders in the responsible management of livestock grazing and trailing,” said Capitol Reef National Park Superintendent Leah McGinnis. “This can only be achieved through effective communication and coordination with permit holders, other federal agencies responsible for managing livestock grazing and trailing adjacent to the park and our stakeholder groups.”
Prior to the establishment of the park, and for several decades thereafter, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permitted and managed livestock grazing in the active allotments in the park. However, between 2000 and 2010, the NPS assumed responsibility for the permitting and management of the active allotments within the park, consistent with direction provided in the park’s 1998 General Management Plan (GMP). While the 1998 GMP addressed potential effects of livestock grazing and trailing, it did not lay out a comprehensive approach for managing these activities in a manner that meets the NPS’s fundamental mission to protect park resources and values.
The plan/EIS will analyze complex ecological, cultural, and social issues, and public participation in the process is encouraged and needed. The 60-day public comment period opens with the publishing of the Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register. This comment period will open on March 10, 2015 and close May 15, 2015.
The NPS will host two in-person open house meetings during this comment period as follows:
April 1, 2015
Wayne County Community Center
605 South 350
East Bicknell, UT 84715
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
April 2, 2015
Hanksville Town Hall
30 South Highway 95
Hanksville, UT 84734
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
The in-person meetings will follow an open house format and consist of several stations where different aspects of the project will be presented. There will be an opportunity to speak with NPS staff at the stations.
The NPS will also hold one informational web-based meeting on April 8, 2015 for those who cannot attend an in-person meeting, but want to learn more about the project. The webinar will include a brief presentation and an opportunity to ask questions of NPS staff. Information regarding the livestock grazing and trailing plan and EIS, public scoping and public meetings can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/care_lgtmp_eis_scoping.
Interested parties will be able to submit scoping comments either electronically on the PEPC web site (the preferred method of receiving comments); via U.S. Postal Service at Superintendent, Capitol Reef National Park, HC 70 Box 15, Torrey, UT 84775; or at one of the in-person public meetings that will be held during the 60-day scoping period. Public comments will not be accepted during the web-based meetings; rather participants will be directed to the PEPC web site to enter their comments.