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Olympic National Park releases Draft General Management Plan

Wednesday, June 14

Peninsula News Network

Olympic National Park managers are opening the in boxes for people to start commenting the park’s new General Management Plan… a long-range management document that’s been at least 5-years in the making.

Details of the proposed plan began filtering out last week, but the official comment period on the draft plan doesn’t start until Friday. The comment period will be open for 90-days, running until September 15th.

The GMP is an attempt by the Park Service to come up with a master document full of policies to govern planning over a 20-year period. Prior to this time, ONP used a series of specific plans developed for different parts of the park. But there was little overall effort to coordinate management to a set of park-wide policies.

This draft is a long, 4-hundred page document that outlines the historical use of the park, and how the various alternatives would effect park resources and visitation, including impacts on the surrounding region. There is one “no action” alternative, and three additional options proposing various levels of control to protect the park and yet still allow for visitors to enjoy ONP.

The preferred alternative… Alternative “D” calls for keep and improving some of the “front country” developments like the Hurricane Ridge Lodge, including wintertime skiing, and moving some roads on the west side of the park to avoid future damage from rivers and erosion along the beach. Kalaloch Lodge would be relocated away from erosion and the floodplain of Kalaloch Creek. Visitor Centers at places like Kalaloch and the Hoh would also be improved.

What might be the most controversial feature of the new plan is the suggestion to add thousands of acres to the park near Lake Crescent, Lake Ozette and along the Queets for larger buffer zones to protect water quality, plus fish and wildlife habitat.

But park managers are pointing out that actually implementing the plan will depend on funding, which has become an increasing problem for the Park Service in recent years.

Public open houses to discuss the plan have been scheduled for this summer in communities around the Peninsula and the region, with copies available at local libraries. Read the entire document.



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