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June 30 is Deadline for Comments on Death Valley Wilderness Stewardship Plan


Responsible stewardship of the Death Valley wilderness entails protecting a wide range of flora and fauna, such as these little cacti. Photo by niiicedave via Flickr.

If you’d like to comment on wilderness resource values and management alternatives in the largest named wilderness in the continental U.S., you’ve still got time. The deadline for public input on the Death Valley Wilderness Stewardship Plan has been extended to June 30.

The size of the federally designated wilderness in Death Valley National Park is mind boggling. About 93% of the largest national park in the coterminous states, a whopping 3.1 million acres, is federally protected under the terms of the Wilderness Act of 1964. That’s enough land to hold all of Yellowstone National Park, with nearly enough room left over to accommodate Everglades National Park for good measure.

The park is preparing a Wilderness Stewardship Plan to guide decisions regarding the future use and protection of the wilderness lands. Public comment is a vital component of the NEPA-required environmental assessment that will take two or three years to complete.

This is the first of several stages in the planning process at which public input is solicited.

The sheer size and diversity of the park’s wilderness makes the devising of a wilderness stewardship plan very challenging. There are many complicating factors, not least of which is the fact that a network of highways and primitive dirt roads parcels the wilderness land into roadless tracts of various sizes and shapes.

Remember that the planning process applies only to Death Valley’s federally designated wilderness and doesn’t address concerns about non-wilderness backcountry and developed areas such as private inholdings, backcountry cabins near roads, the Saline Valley hot springs, developed campgrounds, and tourist destinations such as Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells, and Scotty’s Castle.

The park prefers to receive comments via the electronic public comment form on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment System or by email to [email protected].

If you prefer to submit your comments by mail, address them to: Superintendent Death Valley National Park – Wilderness Plan, PO Box 579, Death valley, CA 92328.

For additional information you can phone Charlie Callagan, Death Valley’s Wilderness Coordinator, at 760-786-3282.

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