Saline Preservation Association

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Sam D.

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Hi John, I am unable to find the current SPA position paper on the website?
Thanks, Sydney

Posts: 21
Response from DVNP (in part) Dated Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:20 PM

"The NPS is in the process of categorizing and coding comments received and will post the comment summary report on PEPC when it is complete.
There were more than 800 correspondences received during this process. The current timeline for the comment report is Summer 2014.
Candace Lieber
Executive Assistant
Office of the Superintendent
Death Valley National Park"


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I too am very interested in how things were taken, next steps, etc?

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Anyone talked to park administrators or staff about the nature of the comments they received?  I'd like to know how much feedback they got and something about the flavor of it.


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Thanks so much John and all! This procrastinator will get right on it (tomorrow) now that income taxes are filed.[tongue]

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Thanks to all the SPA directors and members who contributed to this position paper!  I've finally submitted my comments to the NPS, and have included/supported all of the management alternatives suggested by SPA.
With much gratitude,
Salt Peter

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Well Done!

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Greetings friends,


As promised, here is the Saline Preservation Association's position paper on the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan. Many of you have requested some direction in making comments to this proposal suggested by the Death Valley National Park to define the future management of the Warm Springs. It is our hope, that a majority of our members and the Saline community, speaking with a unified voice conveying a shared vision will carry further toward a common goal.


This paper is a culmination of suggestions, comments, and feedback from the membership and community. Saline Valley Warm Springs hosts a very diverse population of visitors who share a common love of wild places and warm waters. It is not expected that everyone should agree with every suggestion offered in this paper. Follow your heart in making your comments. It is very important for you to make comments, and be proactive in your comments. "It isn't broke, don’t fix it" will not carry as much weight with the Park as proactive suggestions detailing what you envision for the future. If the Springs is important to you, take the time and energy to invest in its future. This paper is a guideline toward that end. You may want to copy and paste certain salient points in making your comments, or you may want to express your own thoughts. For those who want to simply endorse this position in its entirety, please copy and paste the Elements and Proposed Alternatives to the Park website.


Comments may be made through April 27, 2014 at the following website:

If you have questions or difficulty accessing where to leave comments, please reply to this email and we will endeavor to assist.

A MS Word document containing the Position Paper is also attached, in addition to the text included in this email.

We will remind you again of the approaching deadline as that time draws near.


Thanking you all for your love and support of one of the best places on the planet,




the Saline Preservation Association Board of Directors.




SPA Position Paper - Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan/EIS




Saline Valley has enjoyed a rich and unique history, both geologically and culturally. It is one of the most unique landscapes in the United States. There is no basin deeper, from its base to the lowest pass. No mountain range is more precipitous than the Inyo's. Saline Valley is the only valley unpenetrated by ground radar. Early paleontologists associated the earliest fossil records of trilobites with those found in Saline Valley. For many years there was a Shoshone settlement at Hunter Canyon. The valley is rich in mine sites both historic and current. The highest tram of its kind mined salt from the Saline Valley lakebed at the turn of the century.


Within Saline Valley, the Warm Springs of Saline have also enjoyed a unique and special history since the first tub was established in the 1930’s when the Civilian Conservation Corps, working on the Saline Valley road, installed the first tub at the springs for their enjoyment and relaxation. Since that time, under the stewardship of Inyo County, the National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and now the National Park Service, the Warm Springs have been unique and special by virtue of the fact that the development, maintenance, and management of the springs has taken place under the hand and care of the visitors who have enjoyed the recreational opportunities offered at these remote camps. Official agencies have historically conceded that the great success of the Springs has been a result of the Visitor Community’s care and dedication, which could never be matched by government involvement in the direct management of the springs beyond basic necessary regulations to ensure public safety and a continued quality experience for all.


Throughout the decades, the demographic of the visitor to the Springs has changed and will likely continue to change. What has not changed, yet continues to draw the present-day visitor is the unique sense of freedom found in a park that was created by the people, for the people. The historic style of management at the Springs, relying largely upon its visitors and their talent and dedication is what has made this area special. It is what draws the modern day visitor to this remote location. We owe it to future visitors to maintain that quality of the springs which has drawn past and present visitors, and will continue to draw future visitors and offer them the unique experience that is Saline Valley.


To that end, while recognizing the need for adequate regulations to ensure that quality of experience, the Saline Preservation Association recommends a light and minimal approach by the governing agency of the National Park Service to ensure future enjoyment while allowing the continued practice of reliance upon the Visitor Community to maintain and manage the Warm Springs of Saline Valley.


We have reviewed and digested the NPS document entitled: DEVA_Saline_Valley_Warm_Springs_EIS_Preliminary_Alternatives_Comparison_Table_Jan_2014_(1), and have presented our thoughts on each of the Management Elements covered therein.


The attached SPA Position re: DEVA_Saline_Valley_Warm_Springs_EIS is a summary of these comments. We welcome discussion of the details in the interest of forming a productive agreement for the ongoing management of the Saline Valley Warm Springs.


Respectfully Submitted,


Directors of Saline Preservation Association (SPA)



Management Elements and Preferred Alternatives

Management Element: Camping Areas

Preferred Alternative: Mixed.

1.  Maintain dispersed camping, allowed in the No Action, Minimum Action, and Community Engagement alternatives. This includes car camping remaining unrestricted in non-wilderness areas.

2.  Wilderness camping (tents, non-motorized) in wilderness areas (No Action)

3   Continue to use designated camp areas defined by delineation of with signage at wilderness boundaries.

4   With respect to the "No camping within 200 feet of the water sources”, SPA recommends a distance of 100 feet will preserve existing campsites while protecting source pools.



Management Element: Campfires

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

SPA recommends continuing the user maintenance, which includes ash removal from cold fire containers, replacement of fire pans, etc.


Management Element: Length of Stay

Preferred Alternative: Modified

30-day camping limit per calendar year are part of the 2012 Superintendent's Compendium. This gives the Superintendent the opportunity to define such things as Length of Stay at the springs. Future changes in this limit may be deemed useful and agreeable to the community. SPA recommends a change to 45-day camping limit per calendar year due to the sparse usage during most of the year, with review by community and camp hosts ongoing.


Management Element: Camping Permits

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

Due to generally sparse usage of the springs (other than a few exceptional weekends), the cost to administer and/or collect fees or issue camping permits will likely exceed any returns.


Management Element: Fees

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

There is currently no DVNP entrance fee collection facility on any of the most common routes used to access Saline Valley. Many users possess a NPS pass of some kind.


Management Element: Vehicular off-road Use

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Voluntary compliance reduces long-term impact that reduces the Park's need to patrol and enforce what has long been a community objective, expressed through observance and occasional admonishment of the unobservant.


Management Element: Maintenance of Tubs and Infrastructure

Preferred Alternative: No Action

     Volunteer efforts have always been the mainstay of the Warm Springs area and should continue, as the Visitor-community does a better job than any outside agency could do at no cost to the public beyond voluntary contributions of labor, time and materials. Of all the user-performed maintenance functions, this one is most notable for its diligent execution for decades.

Management Element: Dishwashing Stations

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action- Retain with Modifications

1.Removal of dishwashing stations would result in greater impact to the area.

2.Membership will develop plans for installation and maintenance of grease/scrap traps under Infrastructure above.

3.Membership will develop plans to cover source pools to remove possibility of contamination where it exists.

4, Posting of signs indicating that water is not potable.


Management Element: Continued Modifications

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Modify the alternatives by suggesting that the Park Service allow non-maintenance modifications upon review and approval. Such submissions and requests might be facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Saline user group such as SPA.


Management Element: “Chicken Strip” airstrip

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

Continue the Memorandum of Understanding with the RAF for continued maintenance of the Chicken Strip. This historic airstrip has the potential to be a valuable resource in times of need for pilots or visitors needing emergency evacuation.


Management Element: Clothing Optional Area

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

The apparent local custom for many years within the Warm Springs area, has been clothing optional. There has been no expression of any need within the user community to change this basic agreement.


Management Element: NPS Staffing/Law Enforcement

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

The visitor community of Saline Valley has proven itself capable of self-regulation over the period of decades, reducing the need and cost for government oversight. A local camp host has the ability to contact the Park by radio when necessary. This system works and should be continued. It would be helpful to all members of the community if NPS officials and employees were clearly identifiable at all times. This would greatly increase levels of co-operation and trust.


Management Element: VIP/Camp Host

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

In the future, consider making volunteer positions rotating to allow greater community involvement and participation. SPA recommends the development of clearly defined and published duties of volunteers in the park.



Management Element: Stewardship of Recreation Assets

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Develop an MOU with the extended visitor-community (NPS/SPA) to identify and execute projects of benefit to the Saline Valley Warm Springs. Separate groups within the extended community would choose a single representative organization, such as SPA, to develop consensus.


Management Element: Resource Stewardship

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

The user community has been effective and the objective is to continue and improve this outcome.



Management Element: Cooperative Management with Tribe

Preferred Alternative: No Action

SPA is the accredited representative of the widest cross-section of the user group and welcomes any and all interested users to join the conversation, contribute time/resources, or stand for election to our Board. All-inclusive management with all users is the objective of the community.



Management Element: Toilet Management

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Explore the option of installing a new vault at Palm Springs, rather than removing and moving a Lower Springs vault. Since the total usage is expected to remain relatively constant, pumping expense may not increase.


Management Element: Hazardous Materials Storage

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Proper/compliant primary and secondary containment will be the community objective.


Management Element: Recreational Water Usage

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

The current practice is to make only those changes necessary to preserve the current/customary usage patterns.


Management Element: Auto Repair Services

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Mitigate any perceived HAZMAT issues and preserve the availability of emergency vehicle repair services.



Management Element: Settling Pond

Preferred Alternative: No Action

The Settling Pond provides a resource management facility by converting incidental grey-water to simple organic nutrients and mineral sediment prior to release into the native environment.


Management Element: Non-Native Species (Plants) / Wetland

Preferred Alternative: No Action

Attempted eradication would not be productive or lasting.


Management Element: Non-Native Species (wildlife)

Preferred Alternative: No Action

As long as acclimated to natural food sources without over-competing , these are part of the natural spectrum.


Management Element: Habituated Wildlife

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Signage, Education on proper food storage and compliance with park rules on not feeding wildlife will be the community objective for all users/volunteers/visitors.


Management Element: Cultural (Historic) Landscape

Preferred Alternative: No Action

The current Cultural landscape is representative of the historical landscape. People have used this area for recreation and refuge for centuries and continue to do so in co-operation with Nature and each other.



Management Element: Archeological/Ethnographic/Anthropological Resources/ Bat Pole and other current Ethnographic art

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement

Respectful preservation in accordance with current custom/ law/regulation will be the objective of the community, perhaps as part of an overall MOU. All of these resources are truly part of a Cultural Spectrum of human artifacts that is not easily or justly separated.


Management Element: Commercial Use

Preferred Alternative: Minimum Action

No commercial use is currently permitted. Auto repair in the Warm Springs area is considered to be fair-trade barter arrangement, as is customary in harsh environments where mutual aid is the norm.


Management Element: Road Maintenance

Preferred Alternative: Community Engagement


The main N-S corridor through the Saline Valley has been maintained by Inyo Co. for several decades. Historically, the County has had access to several “borrow pits” along the route to obtain materials (sand/gravel/rock) for maintenance. Upon the change of administration of the Saline Valley area from BLM to NPS, access to these important resources was discontinued. Over the years following this administrative change, the condition of the road has deteriorated significantly, making visitor access, emergency response and routine patrol more difficult, time-consuming and damaging to vehicles. SPA suggests a return of access to these borrow pits to the Inyo Co. road crews in order to improve the maintenance outcomes. In addition it is suggested that Inyo Co. be permitted to also maintain the access road from the County Road to the Warm Springs area as needed.


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