Document Type

Report

Publication Date

12-1993

Abstract

Whether on foot. bicycle. horseback. or in vehicles, most visitors come to Canyonlands National

Park (Canyonlands) to experience solitude or to "get away from people." Yet visitation to

Canyonlands has risen exponentially over the past five years (Figures I and 2). Visitation is expected to continue to rise. As a function of this increase in number of visitors, adverse impacts to Canyonlands' resources have increased and the visitors' ability to find solitude has decreased. Since the mandate of the National Park Service (NPS) is to balance visitor access

to the parks with preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources, rising visitation to Canyonlands has necessitated a new Backcountry Management Plan (Plan). In 1992, 396,91 I visitors entered Canyonlands. Only 15,629 of these visitors. or 4 percent, spent one or more nights in the backcountry. It is visitors accessing the backcountry that will be most affected by this change in management policy.

Since the goal of this Plan is to prevent significant damage to resources, provide for public use,

and protect scenic values and a sense of solitude in backcountry areas, the ways visitors use

Canyonlands will be affected. This draft Plan is presented as an Environmental Assessment

(EA) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Following NEPA regulations, this EA includes a brief discussion of the need for the Plan, a No Action section describing the present policies, proposed changes presented under Preferred and Other Alternalives, and a section describing the Environmental Consequences of the alternatives

described.

Management alternatives are presented below, no final decisions have been made at this point.

Based on comments received from the public, this EA will be modified, and final management alternatives will be selected . The final Plan is expected 10 be ready by February 1994, and will be implemented as soon as the NEPA process is completed, pending funding. The Plan will provide management direction for the backcountry for the next five years. Current policy for

backcountry use is presented as the No Action Alternative: proposed changes are presented as

the Preferred and Other Alternatives section. Where a clear preferred alternative has not been selected, or if other policies are also being considered , other choices are presented. Finally, the section on Environmental Consequences describes how the various alternatives affect natural, cultural, and socioeconomic resources.