EA to Improve Visitor Facilities at Buffalo National River
The National Park Service (NPS) has initiated work on an Environmental Assessment (EA) and is seeking public and agency input for the proposed Facilities Improvements project to determine if the project could potentially result in any significant impacts to the natural or human environment
The purpose of the project is to improve vehicle and pedestrian access to the river at Rush and Hasty Landings, provide parking space at the Spring Creek Trailhead, and improvements to the Lost Valley Trail for hiker safety and to ensure compliance with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Specifically, at Rush Landing, trees and brush would be cleared along the side of the ramp exit road and a pedestrian trail would be constructed up the hill so that foot and vehicular traffic would not have to use the same roadway. A drainage culvert would be installed at the top and bottom of the ramp exit road. The road along the river that leads to Clabber Creek and the Bowman Tract past Rush Landing would be widened where needed to allow for proper traffic flow and a turnaround would be constructed approximately 75 to 100 yards down the road using the old power line right of way. This would allow vehicles waiting to use the landing to line up in a location that does not block traffic coming into and leaving the landing area. The power line to the Bowman Tract would be removed and additional parking spaces for concessionaire buses would be created in the right-of-way.
Ozark Highland Trail extension crosses Spring Creek Road just inside the Buffalo National River boundary. Hikers use this location as an access point for the trail. NPS proposes to construct a parking area that would accommodate up to four vehicles adjacent to the road just inside the boundary, to alleviate hikers parking along busy Route 99/Spring Creek Road.
At Hasty Landing a canoe walkway will be constructed to alleviate social trailing, which will in turn reduce bank destabilization at the launch site. Area of social trailing would be restored and devices would be installed to direct foot traffic down canoe walkway. Two large trees in the parking area would be removed to improve vehicle maneuvering and increase parking space. The parking area would be slightly expanded and re-graded to improve control of stormwater runoff. A modern bathroom facility would be installed slightly uphill from the existing facility, out of the floodplain, and a pedestrian trail would be constructed in the woods beside the entrance road to facilitate easy access without impeding vehicular traffic coming into and out of the landing area.
The Lost Valley Trail to Eden Falls and Eden Falls Cave is currently only accessible by foot. The existing trail has inadequate drainage crossings and safety hazards. Safety hazards include rock slides, sloping and uneven footing, loose, broken and missing native stone steps, and deteriorated rock retaining walls. NPS proposes to upgrade a section of the lower trail and the amphitheater to make them compliant with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The remaining trail, which leads beyond the falls to the cave and the return trail from the cave would be improved and stabilized. Stone steps would be secured and trip hazards such as rocks and roots would be removed. Drainage crossings would be improved by the use of buried pipes or stone culverts.
At this time, we are initiating a public scoping period that will be open for 30 days. During this scoping period, the public is invited to identify any issues or concerns they may have with the proposed project so that they may be appropriately considered in the EA.
Comments may be submitted online right here in the PEPC site or mailed to the following address:
Facilities Improvements EA
Buffalo National River
402 N. Walnut, Suite 136
Harrison, Arkansas 72601
All scoping comments must be received by June 23, 2010.