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The National Park Service proposes to improve the Spruce Railroad Trail and released the 2012 Spruce Railroad Trail Environmental Assessment (SRRT EA) on May 9. The SRRT EA is available for public review through Friday, June 8, 2012.

The 2012 SRRT EA supersedes an EA released last year and includes new alternatives, including a new preferred alternative, and environmental analysis. The new SRRT EA illustrates the value of public input and addresses Important issues were raised during last year's public comment period, particularly around accessibility, safety, and visitor experience.

A new preferred alternative was developed and is fully described in the SRRT EA, along with three other action alternatives and a no-action alternative.

* indicates the current step in the planning process
Step 1. Define Purpose & Need
Step 2. Conduct Public Scoping
Step 3. Consider Public Input & Develop Alternatives
Step 4. Refine Alternatives and Develop Mitigations to avoid or minimize adverse impacts
Step 5. Prepare Environmental Assessment
Step 6. Select NPS Preferred Alternative
Step 7. Public Review & Comment
Step 8. Analysis of public comment
Step 9. Prepare Decision Document
Step 10. Release Decision Document to Public *

Approval from the NPS Regional Director is required to release the EA and initiate the formal public review and comment period. We will make the EA available as soon as approval is granted.

The EA will be available for a 30-day public review period.

The final decision is made after the public has had the opportunity review the EA and provide comments and feedback. Primary distribution of the EA will be via this website. The NPS also must complete consultation with other agencies that have legal responsibilities (such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for compliance with the Endangered Species Act and State Historic Preservation Officer for compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act). Once public review and agency consultation is complete, the final decision rests with the NPS Regional Director. For an EA the decision document is called a "Finding of No Significant Impact." This document must demonstrate that the selected action will not result in a significant impact to the environment. If a significant impact would occur, the NPS must prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). The NPS must also determine whether or not the selected action would impair park resources or values. This is a requirement of the National Park Service Organic Act. No national parks may approve an action that would result in impairment. The park Superintendent will make a recommendation of a final selected alternative to the Regional Director for consideration.