Public comment is being solicited on issues and concerns the National Park Service proposes to address in the first general management plan for Natural Bridges National Monument.
The Park Service mailed information this month, saying the general management planning process has begun that will serve the oldest park unit in Utah for the next 15 years.The comprehensive plan is to guide the preservation, use and development of the monument, which was originally established to protect three natural bridges and was later expanded to include numerous prehistoric Indian ruins.
The Park Service identified the following specific issues for public comment by March 4:
- Resource protection. What is the best management plan to ensure protection of natural and cultural resources while providing for visitor use at Natural Bridges? Possible reintroduction of bighorn sheep, damage to cryptogamic soils from unrestricted hiking and vandalism and other damage to archaeological sites are areas of concern in the resource protection category.
- Visitor accommodations. What types of improvements and facilities are needed to provide appropriate visitor orientation and ensure efficient operations at the park center? According to the Park Service, problems have developed at the Visitor Center because of inadequate parking and traffic congestion; inadequate office, exhibit, lobby and auditorium space; a poor heating system; an unreliable sewer system; and crowded restrooms.
- Campground facilities. What can be done to better accommodate overnight visitors when the 13-unit campground is full? Space to expand the campground and water are limited. Travel trailers and oversize vehicles are difficult to maneuver in the campground because campsites are not pull-through. No campsites are designed to accommodate for disabled visitors.
- Roads and trails. How should increasing use of roads, trails and walkways be addressed to provide a safe, quality visitor experience and protect vegetation? Problems include a deteriorating road base and inadequate pullouts and drainage to support oversize vehicles and the increasing number of motorists.
- Residence and office utilities. What can be done to provide the level of utility service required by visitors and park residents?
- Surrounding environment. What should the Park Service do about protecting visual and other qualities of lands around Natural Bridges?
Comment on issues presented in the brochure, other concerns and requests to be included on the management planning mailing list should be addressed to: National Park Service RMR-PP, Attn: Linda Carlson, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-1287.
Mailing address for Natural Bridges National Monument is P.O. Box 1, Lake Powell, UT84533-0101.