The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the impacts of the proposal to stabilize the sandstone arch at the front of the Spruce Tree House (STH) cliff alcove at Mesa Verde National Park (MVNP). Increasing rock falls prompted the park to close STH in October 2015 so the potential local spall issues, questionable overall arch span stability, and the 1962 arch stabilization treatments which are at the end of their design life could be analyzed for stability and safety.

The EA evaluates three alternatives regarding the stabilization of the sandstone alcove arch. It describes the environment that would be impacted by the alternatives and assesses the environmental consequences of implementing the alternatives.

* indicates the current step in the planning process
Step 1. Develop range of preliminary concepts
Step 2. 30-day public comment period - extended to January 21, 2022
Step 3. Refine range of preliminary concepts and develop alternatives
Step 4. Gather necessary information to evaluate the impacts of alternatives
Step 5. Assess compliance needs under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other environmental regulations
Step 6. Identify environmental impacts and select preferred alternative
Step 7. Prepare initial plan/environmental document
Step 8. Public review of initial plan/environmental document
Step 9. Analysis of public comment
Step 10. Prepare final plan/decision document
Step 11. Release final plan/decision document to the public *

On February 13, 2024, the NPS issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an environmental assessment (EA) for the Mesa Verde National Park Spruce Tree House Alcove Arch Stabilization. After consideration of the environmental assessment and public, tribal, and agency comments, the finding concludes that the project will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Therefore, preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required.

The NPS has selected Alternative B because it best meets the project purpose to stabilize the STH alcove arch while also providing access for the public to visit Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling. The proposed action is needed to prevent substantial damage to the cliff dwelling and other park resources and to ensure staff and visitor safety.