President’s Day Weekend – 2012 greeted visitors to the Springs with wonderful warm weather and passable passes. A bit of the W passed through camp from time to time, as is its habit this time of year, but graciously subsided for the weekend’s BIG events. Saturday found Oregon John hosting the 10th Annual Saline Valley Classic golf tournament (dedicated to Turtle Jim). Five grueling holes tackled with seven-irons where the only rule is don’t loose your ball and improve your lie. Hendy took the title for the second year with a score of 15, and Majorette Carolyn took the extreme runner up position with a score that will not be mentioned in deference to the lady.
Sunday opened with a bit of breeze, and Sgt Pepper hosted his 5th annual Lonely Hearts Club breakfast, with an endless flow of bacon, eggs, and flapjacks for an appreciative crowd at Palm Springs. The breeze abated in plenty of time for the annual Skins vs. Misfits Softball Tournament. This game is a 30-year tradition started by the Wizard and Chili Bob, pitting the Lower Springs against the Upper Springs, though recruitment has increasingly crossed the boundary in recent years. This year’s game was perhaps the most exciting ever, with a photo finish at the top of the last inning when the Misfit’s MVP Jay crossed home plate for the winning run in a hotly disputed call from Umpire Scott. Final score: Misfits 16; Skins 15. Huzzah to all!
Four members of the SPA board of directors met with Death Valley National Park officials at Furnace Creek on February 24. Board members present included Patricia Wilder, John Dukes, Tom Ganner, and Timbo Hynes. Representing the Park Service were Superintendent Sarah Craighead, Chief Ranger Brent Pennington, Environmental Protection Specialist Mike Cipra, and Management Assistant Cheryl Chipman. The meeting was requested by SPA as a means to familiarize the Park Service with the Association and explore how to best utilize SPA’s resources in the future management of Saline Valley and the Warm Springs. Board members introduced themselves and reviewed their historical relationship with Saline Valley, and Park officials responded in turn with introductions and history with the NPS in general and Death Valley in particular. SPA reviewed its Mission Statement, and its demographics, in very general terms, representing the user community of the Valley. We let NPS know that SPA had over 1000 members in its address and email database and over 500 active participants in the Saline Valley Talk online forum. (http://forum.salinepreservation.org) Superintendent Craighead was particularly interested in our regional breakdown (number of members per state and outside the US) , which SPA subsequently provided. Superintendent Craighead also asked for a copy of our by laws, which are being provided through the SPA website at www.salinepreservation.org. SPA reviewed its contributions through the years to the maintenance of the Warm Springs and Valley and support of the user community’s historical presence in the Valley. Expressing our interest in being of service to the National Park, much of the remainder of the meeting was devoted to a discussion reviewing the upcoming process toward developing a management plan (or site plan) for the Warm Springs at Saline Valley. Please read the article that follows for more details on this important development.
Death Valley National Park is in the initial stages of preparing a management plan for the Warm Springs area of Saline Valley. The initial part of this process will include the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess the impacts of any management decisions on environmental and human resources. The NPS anticipates that the Notice of Intent to prepare a Management Plan/EIS will be published in the Federal Register late this spring or early in the summer, although delays in publishing the Federal Register notices are possible. (SPA will send the link to the Federal Register notice when it is published.) The public will have the opportunity to get involved in identifying issues and concerns, and helping shape alternatives, during the public scoping process. Mike Cipra, (NPS Environmental Protection Specialist) stresses the importance of having public input in the process, and the NPS will look at substantive comments as to what best preserves the area and provides for a balance between different management priorities, including visitor use. Comments submitted before the scoping period formally opens will not be considered in the planning process. When the scoping period formally opens, comments during this initial period are vitally important because they help shape the alternatives. (SPA will inform its members when the scoping period opens.) It is important to remember that comments in this planning process are not the same as votes. The purpose of the public comments is to help identify substantive issues for the plan to address, and to help shape the plan’s alternatives. The NPS, through the EIS process, will be formulating options to address the issues beginning in the late fall or early winter 2012, based on information received during public scoping. No management decisions will be made until at least 2015.
Superintendent Craighead pointed out that the NPS has an obligation under the law to manage the area, and the NPS has no preconceived ideas about the management plan other than to protect the area.
Information on public involvement opportunities and meetings will be made available on the Death Valley National Park website, in newsletters, and in local media (newspapers, flyers, stakeholders’ newsletters, Tribal Council meetings, etc.) Public meetings are tentatively planned for the week of June 11-15 at three separate locations in Bishop, Ridgecrest, and Victorville California. To get on the mailing or contact list for project updates and announcements, please contact Mike Cipra at Death Valley National Park, PO Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328, or at Mike_Cipra@nps.gov or 760-786-3227.
SPA recognizes the importance of this upcoming process, and public scoping meetings, and will be actively keeping its membership informed of upcoming meetings and developments. SPA will keep its membership informed through emails of record, and on the Saline Valley Talk forum. (forum.salinepreservation.org) It is important for members to keep their email address current with SPA to receive timely announcements. Those who do not have email access for SPA’s announcements should contact Mike Cipra, Death Valley National Park, PO Box 579, Death Valley, California, 92328 to be placed on the Park Service’s mailing list.
Back in 1991, SPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Death Valley National Park. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement. It is a more formal alternative to a gentlemen's agreement. This document helped to define the relationship between DVNP and SPA, and provided defined avenues for SPA to assist the National Park Service in the management of the Warm Springs and Valley. This document expired after five years, which is the standard term of an MOU with the Park Service. The Memorandum was not renewed at that time, due to oversight. At the February meeting with the Park Service SPA expressed an interest in reviewing and renewing the MOU. Superintendent Craighead expressed such a request was reasonable, and that her office would certainly review the document for relevance to present-day needs and realities. SPA is looking forward to working with DVNP to reestablish a Memorandum of Understanding, which will help identify projects and issues that might be best addressed by a partnership between DVNP and SPA.
around William Lyle Hunter Cabin, on Hunter Mountain in the Cottonwood
Mountains of Death Valley National Park, was identified in the Park's Fire
Management Plan of 2009 as a high priority for implementing a prescribed fire.
The purpose of the prescribed fire treatment was described in the Fire
Management Plan as both protection of a historic resource-- the Hunter Cabin--
and maintenance of native plant communities. The plan identified a prescribed
fire area of approximately 700 acres around the cabin, preceded by mechanical
reduction of fuel loads around the cabin. Mechanical treatments to reduce fuel
loads around the historic cabin and along the access road to the cabin have
already been completed, in accordance with the Fire Management Plan.
The NPS proposes to analyze the potential impacts of a 50-acre prescribed fire and ecosystem study in order to proceed carefully toward the management goal outlined in the Park's Fire Management Plan.
The proposed project would combine a small-acreage prescribed fire with a fire treatment study involving fire effects study plots in a pinyon pine ecosystem. This study would provide a better understanding of the effects of fire in the Hunter Mountain ecosystem, and valuable data that would enable the National Park Service to proceed toward the goal of managing native plant communities.
The Park Service is currently welcoming public scoping comments on this particular proposal until April 13. The public may comment directly by going to the website at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkID=297&projectID=39476
And clicking on the “Open for Comment” button on the left side of the page, or contact:
Chief of Resources Management
Death Valley National Park
SPA is currently in good financial shape. Our account balance is just over $4000. Most of SPA’s expenses in the past have been related to newsletter printing and mailing. Those costs are reduced with the current reliance on the Saline Valley Talk web forum. Total SPA expenses 2011 have totaled $182.95 including $133.24 for maintaining the web forum and $49.71 for camp supplies. Membership contributions in 2011 totaled $293.72. This newsletter will cost SPA approximately $700 to mail out hard copies for people who have not opted to use emails or who do not have computer access. Thanks to all who help to keep us going.
Stay in touch with current events, current road conditions, or create your own topics for discussion on Saline Valley Talk, SPA’s online web forum. We now count on the forum to provide a real time, organic newsletter to our members and the user community at large. Stay in touch and become a part of upcoming news at: http://forum.salinepreservation.org/
If you have received this newsletter by snail mail, it means that we do not have an email address for you in our database. To be guaranteed future notifications of events relating to the development of the NPS Environmental Impact Statement and management plan, you need to let us know how to contact you by email. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Otherwise, if you want updates, without going through SPA, contact Mike Cipra, Death Valley National Park, PO Box 579, Death Valley, California, 92328 (760-786-3227) to be placed on the Park Service’s mailing list.