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Park’s General Management Plan attacked on many fronts

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Peninsula News Network

Read plan comments here

Judging from the tone of many of the public comments posted on-line this week, Olympic National Park’s proposed General Management Plan needs a lot more work to make the public happy, with people attacking the GMP from all sides.

It took more than 3-years to develop the GMP, which is supposed to be the park’s first attempt at an overall master plan that governs the management and operation of Olympic National Park for the next 20-years. Park officials believe having a master plan that’s park-wide is a better approach than trying to develop individual plans for smaller sections of the park, which is the management approach that was dominate over the past 20-years.NoRidgesnow20000.jpg

The plan’s “preferred alternative” is to use a combination of preservation and public use… similar to how the park has been operated in the past… as opposed to favoring either more preservation or more development in the park. The draft version of the GMP would also add several hundred acres of land near Lake Ozette and Lake Crescent within the park boundaries.

However, that compromise approach doesn’t appear to be setting well with people who commented on the draft GMP this past summer.

The park just posted the over 500 comments on the Internet and they show a general dissatisfaction from both sides of the conservation spectrum. Some people adding land around Lake Ozette is essential to the lake’s “health”, but others complain the lake isn’t wilderness and the park service is “taking away the rights” of people who own private property around the lake. One writer said he was “stunned to see the extent of logging around the perimeter of the park”, while another writer accused the park of “not being able to efficiently manage the land” it already has.

The comments aren’t just from individuals. The Mountaineers, one of the most influential outdoor groups in the region, say the “preferred alternative doesn’t guarantee sound wilderness management”, saying the GMP should do more to protect “wild rivers” for fish and even goes so far as to say wolves should be restored to the park, an idea that died amid public opposition in the mid-90s.

Park Superintendent Bill Laitner says the park is “grateful for the many thoughtful and thought-provoking comments” that were received.

The comments can be read by going to the National Park Service’s planning website and drilling down to the General Management Plan from the document list. You can also call park headquarters and make an appointment to read the original comments in person.

Park staff has already begun the step-by-step process of analyzing each comment and developing responses to all of the substantive comments, those that deal specifically with the accuracy of information in the environmental impact statement for the plan, present “reasonable alternatives”, or cause changes or revisions.

The Final Olympic National Park GMP/EIS is expected to be released a year from now.


Park Service releases ONP management plan comments

December 14th, 2006 - 6:00am


(Port Angeles) -- Olympic National Park has released more than 500 public comments received for the park's Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement. Superintendent Bill Laitner calls the comments "thoughtful and thought-provoking." The comments are available online by visiting the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ You can also review the comments in paper format by calling 565-3004 to schedule an appointment at the Olympic National Park headquarters at 600 East Park Avenue in Port Angeles. When complete, the document will be a long-term, comprehensive plan that sets a course for the park for the next 15 to 20 years. The Draft was released last June for a 104-day public review and comment period. More than 725 printed copies and 150 CD copies of the Draft GMP were distributed and the document was also available at area libraries and posted online. Five hundred individual comment letters were received during the public comment period, along with seven form letters and three petitions. In addition to the hundreds of individuals who responded, 48 interest groups, 13 businesses, 16 local, state, or federal agencies, and six tribes wrote comments about the Draft GMP. Park staff has begun the step-by-step process of analyzing each comment and developing responses to all of the substantive comments. The final document is anticipated for release sometime next winter.




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