Salt Creek Environmental Assessment available for review

June 2002

The National Park Service has released an Environmental Assessment (EA)
evaluating a range of alternatives for recreational access in Salt Creek
Canyon, above Peekaboo campsite, in the Needles District of Canyonlands
National Park. The document is available for downloading at the park web
site at Printed copies may be requested by writing to the
Superintendent, 2282 S. West Resource Boulevard, Moab, Utah 84532 or by
electronic mail at

Salt Creek is the most extensive surface water source and riparian
ecosystem in Canyonlands National Park, other than the Green and Colorado
Rivers. It is also the heart of the Salt Creek Archeological District, the
area with the highest recorded density of archeological sites in the park.
A tributary canyon to Salt Creek contains the spectacular Angel Arch.

Until 1998, motorized, street-legal vehicles were permitted to travel along
and in the Salt Creek streambed above Peekaboo. The most recent management
plan affecting Salt Creek, the 1995 Canyonlands Backcountry Management Plan
(BMP), established a permit system and daily limits for vehicles in Salt
Creek . The BMP was challenged in court and, in June 1998, the U.S.
District Court of Utah issued an injunction on motorized vehicle travel in
Salt Creek above Peekaboo, finding that this activity permanently impaired
unique park resources and thus violated the National Park Service Organic
Act (16 USC 1). Four-wheel-drive groups appealed the decision and, in 2000,
the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district
court, to re-examine the administrative record and consider the new NPS
Management Policies in regard to the question of "impairment of park
resources or values," the central issue in the case.

These factors led the park to initiate a new EA process on Salt Creek
access above Peekaboo campsite, addressing the issues on remand to the
district court, revised NPS management policies, and additional access
options. Consequently, the district court stayed the proceedings related to
the impairment issue until completion of the new EA.

The NPS has now completed the EA. The list of possible management
alternatives includes limited year-round vehicle access under the permit
system established in the 1995 BMP, part-year vehicle access under the
permit system, realignment of the existing four-wheel-drive road,
year-round prohibitions on motorized vehicles, or a combination of these

We invite you to review the EA and submit your comments, to the above
addresses. The public comment period will run through August 12, 2002.
Following that period, we will review all comments and make a decision.


Alford J. Banta
Southeast Utah Group

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