This is a copy of the latest of the direct emails sent out to SPA members. If you want to be on that receiving list, send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Had a wonderful hiatus to the Saline Valley Warm Springs for President's Day, enjoyed seeing many friends and reveling in warm weather, and now it is time to get back to the task at hand and unraveling the DEVA Management Plain/EIS document. Once again, the full set of elements and alternatives along with opportunity to comment can be found at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=297&projectID=39438&documentID=56823 and I am including a PDF file of the alternatives as an attachment to this email.
I will cover the first three elements of the EIS in this email: Camping areas, camp fires, and length of stay. Within this discussion I will also clarify the questions raised about the 2012 Superintendent's Compendium, which is cited in several of the alternatives.
I want to qualify this communication by saying that these are my personal thoughts as a 34-year member of the Saline community, and do not reflect an official SPA position. As SPA works toward crafting a position paper, your comments and feedback on these discussions are a valuable asset that allow SPA to speak for you!
Camping Areas: This looks like a good area for mixing and matching aspects of alternatives. I do not believe the NPS will give us carte blanche to camp wherever we want, though the No Action Alternative sounds reasonable. I believe we do want to:
· Maintain dispersed camping, allowed in the No Action, Minimum Action, and Community Engagement alternatives. This includes car camping remaining unrestricted in non-wilderness areas
- Wilderness camping (tents, non-motorized) in wilderness areas (No Action)
- · Continue to use designated camp areas defined by delineation of roadways (very ephemeral features) with signage at wilderness boundaries. A rough map showing the unrestricted area (Warm Springs) and Wilderness lands can be found on page three of the Alternatives Newsletter linked earlier. This seems like a very reasonable approach, and the more we find a reasonable middle-of-the-road, the less likely we will be subject to extremes at the wrong end of the alternatives, such as designated camp sites defined by signposts.
- · With respect to the "No camping within 200 feet of the water sources", the Park could not answer my question as to whether the camp host compound is within that radius, or if his compound or solar array count as "camping."
- · I have no idea what would constitute "overflow camping" (Community engagement Alternative) and I do not think it belongs in the CE-Alternative, personally.
Camp fires: I do know one of the Park's biggest concerns is the proliferation of ash. One of the best places to find common ground here is to concede to use existing fire rings, supported by user-supplied fire pans, and voluntary removal of ash from fire pits. If your fire pit is still hot when it is time to leave, clean up a neighboring fire pit. Bring in some heavy duty trash bags in addition to some of the other supplies on occasion!
Length of Stay: Both the ash removal and the current 30-day camping limit per calendar year are part of the 2012 Superintendent's Compendium. Folks have asked about what is this Compendium? The Compendium is a park-specific set of regulations, enforceable by Park Law Enforcement Rangers. It is updated at least once per year, generally. It is available on the park website at
http://www.nps.gov/deva/parkmgmt/upload/Compendium_2013_Signed.pdf This gives the Superintendent the opportunity to define such things as Length of Stay at the springs.
Several of the Board members of SPA believe the 30-day camping limit per year is arbitrary, and not conducive to establishing or promoting the traditional stewardship offered by the volunteer community that cares for and maintains the Springs. Part of the Park's rationale for specifying a 30-day limit is to allow equal opportunity for all people to enjoy the environment at the Springs. The reality is, the Springs are often close to empty (with the exception of holiday weekends) and thirty days can go by rather quickly for campers who like to frequent the springs regularly. We propose returning to the BLM convention of a 14-day camping limit, whereupon campers must move a specified distance away and remain out of the area for a subsequent 14 days.
Please remember to give us your feedback as we work toward the Position Paper many of you have asked about. We are continuing to pursue a 30-day extension on the comment period, but must proceed currently on the assumption that such a paper should be drawn up in the next few weeks for member review. If we speak with one voice, our voice will carry further!
Stay tuned, more to come.