General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, South Unit

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Greetings, Friends of Badlands National Park:

We are very pleased to present to you the Final General Management Plan (GMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the South Unit of Badlands National Park. This completed document is the result of your participation in a public planning process that began in 2006, and will culminate when NPS Regional Director Mike Reynolds signs the Record of Decision (ROD).

The National Park Service (NPS), Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST), and Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSPRA) have been working cooperatively on this GMP/EIS, with extensive public involvement and outreach, including meetings within Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in South Dakota, and Washington, D.C. Our NPS and Tribal planning team have met with more than 300 people in 21 informational meetings. Your valued opinions have been heard.

We want to express our gratitude to the many of you who provided comments on the Draft GMP. The draft plan was made available for public review between August 20 and November 7, 2010. Public open houses were held in Kyle, Red Shirt, Pine Ridge, Rapid City, and Wall, South Dakota, on September 14-16, 2010, and in Washington, D.C., on October 12. Over 430 comments were received via letters, electronic mail messages, Web responses, and comments transcribed from the public hearings.

The Final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement was crafted from the information we received on the draft plan. The Plan's Preferred Alternative establishes a common vision for managing resources and visitor use in the South Unit of Badlands National Park. For information on the wide range of comments received and our responses to those comments, please refer to Appendix H of this plan.

Following distribution of the Final GMP/EIS and a 30-day no-action period, the ROD will be signed by the NPS regional director, which documents the selection of the Preferred Alternative. Implementation of the Preferred Alternative will begin immediately upon signature of the ROD. All projects will be contingent on funding from Congress.

When implemented, the National Park Service and Oglala Sioux Tribe together will focus on restoring the health and vibrancy of the prairie to enhance wildlife habitat, expanding bison into the South Unit, providing road and trail access, and providing greater opportunities for visitors to experience the natural grandeur of the South Unit. The Plan also addresses Management Options and the desire for the Oglala Sioux Tribe to be more involved in the management of the South Unit. The GMP lays out the National Park Service proposal for the nation's first tribal national park.

The NPS will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. The preservation of public lands as national parklands has long been credited as one of this country's greatest ideas. NPS and OST have been partners for almost 40 years, managing the South Unit with OSPRA. As we all consider the long road that has brought Badlands National Park to this point, we are ready to begin a new journey. Thank you for your support and participation.