Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rocky Mountain Seeks Public Input On Reroutes And Repairs To Flood Damaged Trails

Rocky Mountain National Park is considering reroutes and repairs to several trails that were heavily damaged or lost during the September 2013 flood. Flooding not only washed away the travel surface in some locations, but also structures such as culverts, water bars, and bridges. Saturated soils on hillsides failed, causing landslides that destroyed entire trail segments. Trails that received the most substantial damage require extensive repairs or rerouting.

The purpose of this proposed project is to identify potential travel routes while protecting natural and cultural resources and preserving wilderness character. Damaged trails proposed for reroutes or repairs include: Alluvial Fan, Ypsilon Lake, Lawn Lake, Twin Sisters, and Aspen Brook. All of these trails currently remain open to the public, but portions of the trails and bridges have been washed out by flooding and landslides or are badly damaged. Social trails have developed in some locations around the damaged or missing trail segments, which can lead to soil erosion and vegetation damage over time.

The park is considering several options for each trail, including constructing short detours around damaged or missing trail segments or constructing longer more sustainable trails that require less maintenance over the long-term. Also under consideration is allowing continued use of social trails, and implementing minor improvements within the limits of the existing trail maintenance program. Restoration of existing trails is not always feasible at locations where the trail has been completely washed away or where unstable material within a landslide path is present. Complete trail closure is also an option that may be considered for some trails. Trail segments abandoned due to reroutes or closure would be restored to natural conditions through active replanting or natural re-vegetation.

An environmental assessment will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide a decision-making framework that analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, evaluates issues and impacts on park resources and values, and identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.

Park staff encourage public participation throughout the planning process. There will be two opportunities to comment formally on the project – one starting now during initial project scoping and again following release of the environmental assessment. The park will be hosting a meeting about the proposed project. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Estes Valley Library – Hondius Room located at 335 East Elkhorn Avenue in Estes Park. This will be an opportunity to express ideas, concerns, and recommendations about alternative actions and have questions answered. There will be a short presentation at 5:30 p.m., and park staff will be available to answer questions until 7:00 p.m.; however, the public is invited to visit at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide written comments.

Comments received during the scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the environmental assessment, while also assisting with analyzing the different alternatives. Comments must be received in writing by close of business on December 8, 2014.

Comments can be submitted at the public open house described above or online: look for "Reroutes and Repairs to Flood Damaged Trails."

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Superintendent Rocky Mountain National Park Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

If you have questions about the project, or would like more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


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