The Draft Plan/EIS is comprised of four alternatives, a no-action alternative (Alternative A) and three action alternatives (Alternatives B, C, and D).The 674 page document was developed by an interdisciplinary team of NPS managers, scientists, and staff in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, State of Wyoming, Teton County, and Town of Jackson.
The NPS preferred alternative is the alternative that the NPS has identified to best fulfill the mission of the NPS as well as the purpose and need for the plan. "We believe Alternative C provides for the greatest protection of fundamental park resources and values—from wetland ecosystems, to the heritage of our affiliated tribal communities, to grizzly bears and moose—while allowing for appropriate opportunities to enjoy and recreate in this special area," said Superintendent David Vela.
Key components of the preferred alternative include realignment of the northernmost 0.6 miles of the road, paving the unpaved portion of the road, use of timed sequencing to establish a maximum number of people in the corridor at any one time during peak use periods, establishing pullouts, relocation of the Death Canyon Trailhead, and continued shared use of the road by both motor vehicles and bicycles. The preferred alternative includes a number of actions that will improve the safety and experience of bicyclists including a reduction in the speed limit, paving the unpaved section of the road, managing traffic volumes, and improving the road surface and edge.
As a result of the relocation of the Death Canyon Trailhead the NPS preferred alternative (Alternative C) would impact hikes to Phelps Lake Overlook, the Death Canyon Patrol Cabin, as well as Static Peak Divide by adding another 0.4 one-way miles to each hike. The plan newsletter states:
The Death Canyon trailhead would be relocated to a site near White Grass Ranch, approximately 0.4 mile from its current location. A parking lot would be provided for 60 vehicles, serving both the trailhead and visitors to White Grass Ranch. The abandoned section of the trailhead access road would be converted to a trail. The remaining unpaved portion of Death Canyon Road would be improved to a single lane, gravel surface with turnouts for passing.As mentioned, Alternative A would essentially leave everything as is. Alternative B would relocate the trailhead to the current end of pavement on the existing access road (i.e., the junction with White Grass Road). Parking would be provided for 60 vehicles. The existing 1.0-mile unpaved portion of the trailhead access road would be converted to a trail. Alternative D would reconfigure and expand trailhead parking area in its current location to accommodate 60 vehicles. The 0.4-mile segment of Death Canyon Road between the trailhead and White Grass Ranch would be improved. A new road segment between Death Canyon Road and White Grass Road would be constructed. White Grass Road would be improved to allow for one-way traffic with staggered pullouts. The remaining portion of Death Canyon Road would be removed and the area restored to natural conditions.
While all public comments are informative, the planning team is particularly interested in feedback regarding the accuracy and adequacy of the information and analysis presented in the Draft Plan/EIS. "We have identified a preferred alternative so the public knows which direction we are headed and has a robust opportunity to comment," said Superintendent David Vela. "The preferred alternative reflects current information and science, and at this point we are particularly interested in any new information, questions, or ideas that will improve the Final Plan/EIS." After the public comment period is complete, the planning team will carefully review those comments and address them as necessary. Those comments and their responses will then be incorporated into the Final Plan/EIS which will be completed by summer 2016. A Record of Decision will be signed in the fall of 2016 and the document will then guide management of the corridor for the future.
The Draft Plan/EIS, as well as an informative newsletter that summarizes the plan and its alternatives, is available for viewing and download on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website under the "Documents" tab. Those wishing to comment can provide their thoughts electronically by selecting "Open for Comment" on the website. Comments can also be submitted by standard mail to Grand Teton National Park, ATTN: Moose-Wilson Planning Team, PO Drawer 170, Moose, WY, 83012-0170, by hand delivery to park headquarters in Moose, or during the open house event. Public comments and the names of those making them may be released to the public at any time in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.