Great Sand Dunes NP&P Ungulate Management Plan Draft EIS

Elk and bison are on the Great Sand Dunes landscape today. The elk herd in the eastern San Luis Valley has grown to historically high levels, and approximately 1,700 bison are currently managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on the Medano Ranch. Current evidence suggests that the effects of elk on wetland vegetation communities are a result of disproportionate use of these sensitive habitats (as opposed to overall population abundance).

As a federal action subject to the National Environmental Policy Act, the NPS is preparing this Ungulate Management Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement (UMP DEIS) to analyze specific proposals related to elk management tools that might be used to address the overconcentration issue, while providing a programmatic (broader and higher level) analysis of potential decisions about the future of bison in GRSA. Those decisions include 1) whether or not to amend the GRSA general management plan (GMP) to allow for bison at GRSA, and if so, how many bison might be appropriate; 2) when the NPS would assume bison management responsibilities; and 3) what management tools the NPS might use upon assuming bison management responsibilities. This programmatic analysis is intended to address the general environmental issues, impacts, and benefits relating to these broad decisions about bison. NPS feels this a meaningful point to make these broad decisions, but there is too much uncertainty at this time as to the ultimate specific implementation of potential bison management tools, should the NPS select an alternative that includes bison at GRSA.

The DEIS includes four alternatives: continuing current management (alternative 1, the no-action alternative) or implementing a plan for elk and bison management as described in three action alternatives (alternatives 2, 3, and 4). Alternative 3 is the NPS preferred alternative. Under the preferred alternative, the NPS proposes a suite of lethal and non-lethal tools to alter elk distribution on the park, while continuing public elk hunting on the preserve. In addition, the NPS would seek to partner with TNC to manage bison at a lower density for 5-7 years following NPS' acquisition of the Medano Ranch. After this timeframe, the NPS would assume sole responsibility of bison management and would use tools such as roundups and translocation, hazing, and limited lethal removal to manage bison abundance and distribution in the park. Over the long-term, the NPS would use an adaptive management and monitoring framework to manage elk and bison to meet desired conditions for wetland vegetation and ecological integrity.

To be most helpful, the NPS is seeking your input on:
• the purpose and need for action;
• environmental issues / impact topics analyzed;
• alternatives, including mitigation measures which could reduce potentially harmful effects; and
• the information used to describe the affected environment and environmental consequences.

Comments which are not helpful include those which:
• vote for or against a potential management practice, tool, or alternative without giving reasons why;
• agree or disagree with laws, regulation, or NPS policy;
• discuss other projects or other areas; and/or
• contain vague, open-ended questions.

The DEIS can be downloaded from this website, and is available in hard copy at the following libraries:

Alamosa Public Library
300 Hunt Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

Baca Grande Library
67487 County Road T
Crestone, CO 81131

Carnegie Public Library
120 Jefferson St
Monte Vista, CO 81144

Del Norte Public Library
790 Grand Ave
Del Norte, CO 81132

Saguache Public Library
702 Pitkin Ave
Saguache, CO81149
Comment Period: Closed        Apr 13, 2018 - May 31, 2018
Document Content:
GRSA UMP DEIS_April_2018.pdfGRSA UMP DEIS_April_2018.pdf   (6.8 MB, PDF file)
Disclaimer: Links within the above document(s) were valid as of the date published.
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