Visitor Access & Circulation Plan
The National Park Service has completed a planning process to explore strategies for improving visitor experiences, access, and safety at Antietam National Battlefield through the development of a Visitor Access and Circulation Plan/Environmental Assessment (plan/EA).
The purpose of this plan/EA is to improve visitor access to, and circulation within, the Battlefield in order to enhance visitor experience and increase opportunities to connect with Battlefield resources. The plan/EA also serves to amend the Battlefield's 1992 general management plan as it pertains to visitor circulation, the visitor center, Battlefield tour roads, and tour stops.
The plan/EA is needed because the current layout of trails and tour stops does not fully integrate lands acquired by the Battlefield since the completion of the general management plan in 1992. Since that time, the Battlefield's acreage has grown significantly from 946 acres in fee-simple ownership to 1,937 acres through the acquisition of lands within its legislated boundary. The locations where visitors can go within the Battlefield are limited to existing trails that are not fully integrated into a cohesive visitor experience. A comprehensive vision for a trail system is needed to provide better access to lands owned by the Battlefield and to provide a range of experiences that allow visitors to explore and connect with the historic events of the battle and its legacy.
The plan is also needed to amend certain elements of the 1992 general management plan related to visitor circulation and visitor services focusing on the Battlefield's visitor center as well as Battlefield tour roads and tour stops. The general management plan was based on the concept of restoring to the maximum extent possible the scene at Antietam on the eve of the battle in 1862. As such, the general management plan called for the removal of the visitor center and four segments of the Battlefield tour road system: Starke Avenue, Cornfield Avenue, the surviving remnant of Confederate Avenue, and the section of Richardson Avenue paralleling Bloody Lane, and following their removal, the restoration of the landscapes in those areas. The removal of these features, as outlined in the general management plan, has not been implemented. Now recognized as historically significant elements of the Mission 66 landscape, these features are considered important resources for interpreting the legacy of the Battle of Antietam. This plan assesses the management decision to retain the visitor center and the Battlefield tour roads identified above.
The environmental assessment describes two alternatives for the plan, Alternative A: No-Action Alternative and Alternative B: Proposed Action Alternative, and analyzes the environmental consequences of implementing the alternatives.
The Antietam Visitor Access and Circulation Plan will be available for public review and commenting from April 23rd until May 23rd, 2018. To view and comment on the plan, please click on "Open for Comment" table in the left-hand column.