This discussion of the Stewardship elements of the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan/EIS will wrap up my near-endless stream of discussions. My thanks to those who have been patiently wading through the great volume of issues facing our community. (If it has been difficult for you, imagine how it has been for me!)
Within the Stewardship of Recreation Assets there are multiple components to various alternatives, resembling how legislation is passed in Congress, by bundling bills within other bills. I think we need to mix and match here.
SPA has long sought a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Park Service. I believe it is critical to establish an MOU with the Saline Valley visitor-community, be it SPA, or some other entity. Why? Such a document will help to clearly define a relationship between the visitor-community and the Park administration that would allow for the identification and resolution or execution of issues and projects that could be mutually beneficial to the Park and the visitor-community. An MOU can give the visitor-community a voice through representatives that have an established relationship with Park personnel. An MOU can save the Park money and resources by having a point of contact to utilize the broad talent and capable man-power that the visitor-community can offer. An MOU would go far in facilitating and empowering the visitor-community toward continuing to maintain and direct the future of their use of the Warm Springs area, as has been the historic convention of public involvement in Saline Valley.
Examples of issues and projects that may need to be addressed as presented in the current Alternatives document, which would be well served by an MOU:
· Placing of signage at wilderness boundaries; campsite management
· Establishment of fire rings
· Remediation of fire pits and/or off-road usage
· Maintenance of tubs and infrastructure
· Transportation of water samples
· Installation of grease traps at dishwashing stations; ongoing maintenance of traps
· Covering source pools to protect them from inadvertent pollution by wildlife or human accident
· Identification of continued modifications
· Creation of volunteer banks
· Possible use of portable vault toilets for heavy use weekends; Task force for the exploration of use of green composting toilets
· Creation of OSHA approved storage containers for hazardous materials
· Coordination of volunteer-based monitoring program to control exotic plant propagation
· Coordination of site steward/NPS partnership toward the preservation of archeological resources
Without an MOU, there would be no clear coordination between the Park Service and the visitor-community for these suggested projects. Without an MOU, the volunteer-community's voice would fractious. I fear that the NPS would prefer to not establish an MOU with the visitor-community, for a fragmented group is much easier to manage to accept whatever management options the Park deems necessary or beneficial to their agenda. I believe it is critical that we establish an MOU which goes beyond the suggested: MOU with user group for minimal maintenance of pools
On the Stewardship of Recreation Assets element, I recommend:
· MOU with RAF for the Chicken Strip
· MOU with the user group (what I prefer to call the visitor-community) to identify and execute projects of benefit to the Saline Valley Warm Springs. (That would work both ways, and in the current wording, I only see the MOU benefiting the Park's need for volunteers)
· I do not think we should support the "Cooperative management with the Tribe" as currently embedded within the Community Engagement Alternative. Therefore I think it is important to comment specifically about what we DO want in this element.
On the Resource Stewardship element, an MOU should be necessary for the Park's "collaboration with the user groups to establish thresholds for use and overuse of the area." Honestly, this Alternative just makes me nervous, and I would recommend the No Additional action under the Minimum Action Alternative.
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!
Now is the last call for comment and feedback!