Public comment sought on Boxley Valley Draft Comprehensive Area Plan


HARRISON – The Buffalo National River branch of the National Parks Service announced Monday the Boxley Valley Draft Comprehensive Area Plan and Environmental Assessment (draft plan) is available for public review and comment.There will be two public open house meetings regarding the plan, which may be reviewed online at parkplanning.nps.gov/buff_boxleycap. Public comments may be submitted at the website through March 30.Open houses will be hosted on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boxley Valley Community Center in Ponca and from 5 to 7 p.m. at Jasper High School.

The open houses are “drop-in style,” and attendees may view informational posters, ask questions and speak with the planning team.

Boxley Valley, bordered by the Upper Buffalo Wilderness to the south and Ponca Wilderness to the north, has experienced changing visitation preferences in recent years. The draft plan outlines an Alternative A (current management) and Alternative B (preferred-action) for the area.

The preferred-action alternative is a collaborative strategy aimed at addressing congestion and crowding at river access points; roads and trailheads; expanding visitor services and educational opportunities; repairing flood damage to infrastructure; and creating enhancements to historic structures and the cultural landscape.

This alternative includes guidance for park managers that would assist in identifying the desired conditions for visitor experiences, natural and cultural resources. The guidance would also assist park managers in defining the appropriate types of visitor use activities at key locations in the valley and proposing the appropriate infrastructure to support those activities.

This planning initiative has been ongoing since 2010. The draft plan is informed by public and stakeholder suggestions and input received in fall 2016 and spring 2017, as well as social science research conducted by Kansas State and Clemson universities.

All comments on the Boxley Valley Draft Comprehensive Area Plan and Environmental Assessment are welcome. There are four ways to comment during the public review period through March 30:

– Online through the Park Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website at parkplanning.nps.gov/buff_boxleycap.

– By submitting a comment card at the open house meetings on Tuesday (see above for location and times).

– By mail addressed to Buffalo National River, Boxley CAP Plan, 402 N. Walnut, Harrison, AR 72601. Letters must be postmarked by March 30.

– By email addressed to buff_superintendent@nps.gov.

The Buffalo National River division of the National Parks Service looks forward to hearing from the public and encourages all to visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/buff or its Facebook page for further updates. For more information, contact Cassie Branstetter at 870-365-2744 or cassie_branstetter@nps.gov.

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