|Monday, Aug 15, 2005|
The park is beginning the process of developing a backcountry management plan. The plan will identify a variety of opportunities for visitors to experience the backcountry in Zion while protecting park natural and cultural resources and wilderness values. The plan will provide guidelines for the Service to manage these lands into the future. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Zion must prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate potential impacts to the natural and cultural environment from proposed backcountry management activities. Public comments are now being solicited during what is known as the scoping period. This is the time when any interested individual, organization, or agency can provide thoughtful, relevant information or suggestions for consideration in the draft management plan and EA. The NPS has identified some preliminary issues to be addressed in the plan/EA. These include, but are not limited to, the following: backcountry use limits in canyons; group size limits; commercial guiding; protection of natural and cultural resources; and protection of wilderness experiences and values. The NPS has not yet identified alternatives. Issues and/or alternatives identified through the public scoping process will be addressed in the EA. The public is invited to participate in open house sessions where park staff will provide information and answer questions about backcountry management planning. The locations, dates, and times for the open house sessions are as follows: Salt Lake City, UT, University Park Marriott, 480 Wakara Way, September 8, 2005, 7:00-9:00 p.m.; Kanab, UT, City Library, 374 N. Main Street, September 12, 2005, 7:00-9:00 p.m.; Springdale, UT, Town Hall, 118 Lion Blvd., September 13, 2005, 7:00-9:00 p.m.; and Cedar City, UT, Iron County Tourism and Convention Bureau, 581 N. Main, September 14, 2005, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Please provide all comments by October 7, 2005. Written comments will be accepted at the scoping meetings, on the internet at Zion_Backcountry_Plan@nps.gov, or by mail at the following address: Backcountry Management Plan EA, Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767.