Olympic National Park's final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement has been released.
"Release of the final GMP culminates nearly seven years of careful thought and discussion with our neighbors, visitors, partners and staff," acting superintendent Sue McGill. said. "We appreciate the extensive public input we received and have used it to revise and improve the final plan."
The plan establishes a vision for managing Olympic National Park for the next 15-20 years and aims to protect natural and cultural resources while improving visitor experiences.
Key points include:
• Maintaining access to existing developed areas, park trails, campgrounds and facilities
• Allowing improvements to the downhill ski support facilities at Hurricane Ridge, with no area expansion
• Seeking additional partnerships to help provide enhanced visitor access and enjoyment (e.g. alternative transit options, expanded interpretive and educational opportunities) and better protection of sensitive resources
• Boundary adjustments through willing selling purchases or land exchanges to incorporate sensitive resource areas within the park (e.g. fish habitat, wetlands)
• Continued protection of wilderness resources and cultural resources within wilderness.
The final plan is a 950-page document contained in two volumes. Volume 1 includes the plan alternatives, environmental consequences and extensive background information. Volume 2 contains a summary of public comments and responses to the substantive comments.
Based on the public's input, many revisions were made.
Some of these changes include:
• The boundary adjustment alternatives have been modified and clarified
• Potential costs for property acquisition have been clarified
• Information on private property access rights has been added
• The section on partnerships has been expanded
• Updated information on visitation and socioeconomics has been added
• Wilderness zoning definitions remain within the plan but the exact on-the-ground designation has been removed and will be delineated through the wilderness management plan process
• Stock use issues have been clarified.
In addition, laws and policies governing use of park resources by Native Americans have been added and desired conditions and strategies have been updated or clarified for 15 topics.
After the required 30-day no action period, the final General Management Plan will be forwarded to the National Park Service Pacific West regional director for final approval.
"The final GMP provides overall management guidance and a long-term vision for the park," said McGill. "Implementation of the GMP will require more detailed planning for specific issues - our first such effort will be developing a wilderness management plan for the park."
The final GMP/EIS is available online at the National Park Service planning Web site http://parkplanning.nps.gov.
Review copies are available at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles, the Olympic National Park Information Station in Forks and area libraries.
For more information about the Olympic National Park final General Management Plan, call the park at 360-565-3004.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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