Public input sought for Olympic National Park’s Wilderness Stewardship Plan by Saturday deadline

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The deadline looms for public comment on preliminary alternatives for Olympic National Park’s first Wilderness Stewardship Plan.

The public comment period ends Saturday.

The final plan, expected to be put into effect in late 2015, will guide management of most of the 922,650-acre park for the next 15 to 20 years.

About 100 comments have been received so far after the park released a set of preliminary draft alternatives for public review and comment March 11.

“We’d like to have as many comments as possible. Public input has already helped us identify topics and ideas that people are particularly concerned about and has highlighted areas that need clarification,” said park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

“We look forward to using the input we receive during this comment period to improve the preliminary alternatives and develop the draft plan.”

Once the comment period has ended, park staff will develop the draft plan, which will include an updated and refined set of draft alternatives, along with a full environmental analysis in a draft environmental impact statement.

The draft stewardship plan and environmental impact statement are expected to be ready for public review and comment next spring.

Public meetings will be held, and public comments again will be invited.

Public meetings on possible alternatives were conducted in March in Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Forks.

The plan will apply only to lands within the park.

Ninety-five percent of the park was designated as wilderness in 1988.

The goal of the stewardship plan is to protect the park’s wilderness and provide for public uses: recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historical.

None of the preliminary alternatives is preferred by park officials now.

One alternative for the plan is obligatory. Alternative A is to make no changes in current practices.

The public can focus on any part of the remaining three alternatives.

“The preferred alternative we end up with may include elements of each of B, C and D,” Barb Maynes, park spokeswoman, has said.

None of the options has a price tag as yet.

To summarize the options:

■   Alternative B would emphasize minimizing the human footprint on wilderness areas by reducing infrastructure constructed in the park.

■   Alternative C would emphasize protecting natural resources through ecosystem restoration, including the removal of non-native species.

■   Alternative D would manage use and recreation to provide visitors with a greater range of wilderness experiences.

A copy of all comments received during the current comment period will be posted this summer on www.parkplanning.nps.gov/olymwild, said Maynes.

Also at that website, the preliminary draft alternatives, maps and other information can be found.

Public comments can be submitted at the park planning website or mailed or delivered to Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum, Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan, Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

For more information, visit the planning website or phone 360-565-3004.

Last modified: May 12. 2014 6:42PM
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