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Spruce Tree House Alcove Arch Stabilization

Mesa Verde National Park » Spruce Tree House Alcove Arch Stabilization » Document List

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.

• Under the no-action alternative, the NPS would not stabilize the STH alcove arch. The NPS would not attempt any new arch stabilization or make repairs to past stabilization efforts. No instrumentation would be installed to monitor the stability of the alcove arch, and the site would remain closed for safety concerns.

• Under the proposed action and preferred alternative (alternative B), the NPS would stabilize the STH alcove arch and reopen the cliff dwelling for public visitation, similar to the access available before the 2015 closure. Proposed stabilization work would be limited to the sandstone geologic formation in which the STH cliff dwelling was constructed. None of the ancient, human-made fabric of STH would be stabilized as part of this alternative, although the NPS would work with the construction contractor on temporary measures to protect the cultural site during construction.

• Under alternative C, the STH alcove arch would be stabilized in the same manner as described under alternative B. Upon completing the proposed stabilization activities, the NPS would not reopen STH and the cliff dwelling would remain closed for visitation. Visitors would be able to see the site from nearby overlooks and trails but would not be able to access the cliff dwelling itself.

Upon conclusion of this EA and decision-making process, one of the alternatives would be implemented.

Your feedback is important to the NPS and we invite you to comment on this EA during the public review period that ends on April 10, 2023. Click on the 'Open for Comment' link on the left-hand side of this page to access an electronic copy of EA and submit comments online.

Thank you for your interest and participation in this process.

Kayci Cook Collins


Contact Information

Kristy Sholly 970-529-4628