Gateway Gazette

National Park Service Seeks Public Input for Bison Herd Reduction Environmental Assessment for Grand Canyon National Park

 

Grand Canyon, Ariz. –The National Park Service (NPS) has announced a 30-day public comment period seeking input on changes to the scope of the Bison Management Plan at Grand Canyon National Park.The focus of the planning effort will shift from development of a long-term management plan for North Rim bison to initial herd reduction.

In spring 2014, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the NPS initiated public scoping for an environmental impact statement (EIS) to develop a long-term, coordinated approach to manage the current and future effects of bison on the park’s other natural and cultural resources.As a result of the change in scope to initial herd reduction, the NPS now proposes to complete an environmental assessment (EA) instead of an EIS.

NPS proposed actions that will be analyzed in the EA include:

  • Implementation of a suite of management tools (e.g., capture/removal, sharpshooting, and localized fencing of sensitive park resources) that would be used, in collaboration with state and federal partners, to reduce the bison population, currently estimated at 400 to 600 animals, to approximately 80 to 200 animals;and
  • Development and implementation of monitoring protocols to help improve understanding and to inform decisions about long-term bison management.

Cooperators on this effort include Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

Additional information, including the purpose and need for the action and the proposed actions is available on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grca_bison (see below)

Individuals interested in commenting during the 30-day scoping period may use one of several methods. The preferred method for submitting comments is on the PEPC website. You may also mail or hand-deliver your comments to the Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.

Bison Management Plan for Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park » Bison Management Plan for Grand Canyon National Park » Document List

Houserock Valley Bison Herd. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest
Houserock Valley Bison Herd. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest

A herd of bison was brought to the Grand Canyon region in the early 1900s and has been managed since 1950 by the state of Arizona in the House Rock Wildlife Area (HRWA) on the Kaibab National Forest, through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

For the next 40 years, the bison herd remained largely confined to the HRWA. However, during the late 1990s, the bison began “pioneering” up to the top of the Kaibab Plateau and into Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Over the last several years, few bison have returned to HRWA, and most now spend a majority of their time inside the park, with many not leaving the park at all.

In spring 2014, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, NPS initiated public scoping for an environmental impact statement (EIS) to develop a long-term, coordinated approach to manage the current and future impacts of bison on Grand Canyon National Park’s natural and cultural resources. Since the initiation of the EIS, the focus of the planning effort has shifted to development of an initial plan for herd reduction. As a result of this change in scope, the NPS now proposes to complete an environmental assessment (EA) instead of an EIS. Because of their special expertise with and/or jurisdiction for managing bison outside the park, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Intertribal Buffalo Council are cooperating agencies for this EA.

NPS is seeking additional input from stakeholders as a result of this change in scope of the NEPA review. More information, including the purpose and need for the EA and a description of the proposed actions being considered by the NPS, can be found by clicking on the ‘Documents List’ link to the left, and then the ‘2016 EA Public Scoping Newsletter’ link. Comments may also be submitted via the ‘2016 Public Scoping Newsletter link.’

Source National Park Service

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