Saline Preservation Association
The voice of Saline Valley
Greetings SPA members,
Yesterday, May 4th, the National Park Service (“NPS”) issued their draft Saline Valley Warm Springs Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”). The decisions based on these the NPS documents will determine the very future the Hot Springs as we know them!
The EIS plan document can be found at the following website:
That is the also the website to make comments. Comments may also be mailed to: Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. A limited number of paper copies are available at park headquarters as well as public libraries in Amargosa, Pahrump, Bishop, Lone Pine, and Ridgecrest. Please do not email your comments, as the Park Service is not set up to process a large number of comments that way.
The park will hold public meetings about the draft plan:
The SPA Board met this morning, May 5th via Skype to discuss the various inadequacies of the document as published. There are several material issues in the document that the Board believes need to be addressed in the next 57 days. At this time, we ask members to do the following:
1. Read and become familiar with the draft Saline Valley Warm Springs EIS. We know it is lots of verbiage, but important. The full document (382 pages) is titled DEVA_Saline_Valley_DEIS_Optimized and can be downloaded from the bottom of the link on this page https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=297&projectID=39438&documentID=87550
2. Reach out to other members of the Saline Valley community and encourage them to get involved in this process and ask them to get on our SPA mailing list. You can be added to the list simply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to contact others such as local businesses in Lone Pine, Big Pine, Jeep clubs and the like to join.
3. Please plan to attend at least one of the public meetings to express your opinions in person.
4. Please notify SPA (at this email address) if you know any attorneys, versed in environmental law who would be willing to donate pro bono time to address our mutual concerns. We would love you come to as many meetings as you can. If you are coming to a meeting, email the SPA Board (at this address) so we can find you at the meeting and share any last-minute information.
5. Please consider donating to SPA in the event that we have to hire attorneys to challenge the EIS document. You can send a tax deductible check made out to the Saline Preservation Association 1259 El Camino Real #500, Menlo Park, CA 94025 or go to http://salinepreservation.org/contact.htm and click on the “donate” button.
SPA is preparing a position paper outlining our concerns. That paper will be released in the next two weeks. It will be emailed to everyone on the SPA mailing list. Please compare our concerns with yours and prepare your comments in your own words for the public meetings and/or your written reply.
SPA Board members have arranged to attend all of the public meetings. They will be available to listen to your suggestions as well as ideas about how to proceed.
Again, the decision to be made will determine the very future the Hot Springs as we know them. If we don’t act now there will be no recourse and we could lose access forever.
As mentioned above, 382 pages is a lot to digest in a very short time. I’ll reserve most of my opinions for a week or so until I have had adequate time to read and research everything that has been published.
A couple things however, jump out at me.
In the Executive Summary, on page vi, we find the following:
“Feral Burro Management. The park has a “no burro or wild horse” goal and has a three-phase strategy to remove all wild horses and feral burros from the park, as stated in the park’s 2002 General Management Plan. The management guidelines include live capture of feral burros, removal by animal protection groups, and humane removal efforts.”
Meanwhile, every option in the plan mentions some type of fencing to keep burros away from the Springs. Which is it? Are they going to eliminate the burros or just keep them away from the Springs? And if they do build the fence and later eliminate the burros, will they remove the fence? All we hear about in the news is how strapped the NPS is for cash. They’re raising entry fees to most parks to pay for “deferred maintenance”, but this seems to be another example of poor usage of available resources.
Then we come to page vii of the same Executive Summary. During the public comment period on the proposed alternatives for the management of the Springs, the “No Action Alternative” was clearly the favorite. I’ll look it up but if memory serves, it was something like 8-1 in favor of that alternative. Yet the Draft Proposal says:
“The no-action alternative could result in noncompliance with federal and state regulations for human health and safety due to the recreational use of water without water quality monitoring and unregulated storage and use of hazardous materials, such as bleach and automotive supplies. Due to this noncompliance, the no-action alternative cannot be selected as the preferred alternative.”
To me, this says, “You people are too stupid to know what you need so we’re going to have to protect you from yourselves.” Seriously, who doesn’t know that soaking in a small pool with total strangers “could” be an avenue for spreading infection? I say “could” because in the 39 years I’ve been visiting the Springs, I’ve never heard of anyone catching anything from the hot tubs. I guess we could post more signs reminding people not to drink the water from the tubs where people soak their asses, but I doubt that anyone who would drink that water can read anyway!
As far as the “hazardous materials” are concerned, if the Park has a problem with the storage of these items, why haven’t they mentioned it to SPA or anyone else? I’m quite sure that SPA could arrange the donation of one or more OSHA approved storage cabinets with containment tubs for the bleach. Why haven’t they ever mentioned this concern before?
Frankly, the biggest problem I’ve seen in this whole document is the following paragraph which is repeated at the end of the discussion of each alternative:
“As described in the “Elements Common to All Alternatives” section, the park is completing a plan for cooperative management with the Tribe. When that plan is completed and implemented, actions will be taken at the Saline Valley Warm Springs consistent with that plan.”
Has anyone heard of what the Tribe wants to do in Saline Valley, or anywhere else for that matter? This whole public comment process was intended to promote transparency in the process of developing the management plan for the Springs. Yet the paragraph above seems to indicate that whatever is decided by this process can easily be overruled by the cooperative management plan with the Timbisha Tribe. As best I can tell, there has been NO public comment allowed in regards to that plan, nor has anything been published letting the public know what proposals are even being considered.
As I said, I’ve just started looking at this. I have a lot of research to do on this and I’ll most certainly have more comments as I get further into it. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to read the entire draft plan and form your own opinions.
I expect a lively discussion with lots of viewpoints. Opposing arguments are expected and welcomed. Posts that sink to name calling or threats are not productive and will be promptly deleted. We’re at the point where we’ll be determining the future of the place we all love. I hope we can work constructively together to come up with a plan that we can live with for the rest of our lives.
“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.” ― Lao Tzu
Here we go...https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=39438
The National Park Service (NPS) invites you to review and comment on the Saline Valley Warm Springs Draft Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (draft plan/EIS). Because your feedback is essential to the development of the EIS, we are asking for your thoughtful review and comments during the 60-day comment period, concluding July 2, 2018. The plan's purpose is to develop a management strategy for the Saline Valley Warm Springs area that will complement the Death Valley National Park General Management Plan (GMP). The draft plan/EIS is intended to provide a framework for: natural and cultural resources management; administration and operations; and managing visitor use at the warm springs area. You are encouraged to comment on the draft plan/EIS through this website. Comments can be made by clicking on the "Open for Comment" link at the left side of this page and selecting the document and then clicking "Comment Now" button. You may also mail or hand-deliver your written comments to Superintendent Mike Reynolds, Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. A limited number of hard copy documents are available at park headquarters in addition to public libraries in Bishop, CA, Lone Pine, CA, Pahrump, NV, Ridgecrest, VA, and the Inyo County Free Library in Independence, CA. The NPS will hold public meetings during the comment period near the park at the following locations: •Sunday, May 27, 2018 from 1:00-2:00pm PT at the Saline Valley Warm Springs •Tuesday, May 29, 2018 from 5:30-7:30pm PT at the Ridgecrest Historical Society, 230 West Ridgecrest Blvd, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 •Wednesday, May 30, 2018 from 5:30-7:30pm PT at the Inyo Council for the Arts, 137 South Main St, Bishop, CA 93514 In addition to the public meetings, the NPS will host a webinar on Thursday May 31 at 5:30pm PT. For more information and to register click on 'Meeting Notices.' As vital contributors to the planning process, we hope you take the opportunity to provide feedback, and if possible, join us at the public meetings. Thank you. Superintendent Mike Reynolds Death Valley National Park P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328Document List:https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?parkID=297&projectID=39438
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