The National Park Service is launching a new initiative aimed at compiling a list of the many hard-to-reach parts of National Parks – and wants the public’s help.
Per a blog post on National Parks Traveler, the agency is trying to document land that has limited or no access with the intent of changing that, where possible.
This effort, according to the agency, advances the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2019.
Backpacker.com reports that there are an estimated 10 million acres of land that would qualify for the initiative.
“Increasing the public’s awareness and access to the more than 85 million acres managed by the National Park Service is one of our top priorities,” said de facto National Park Service Director David Vela. “We’re looking forward to working with the public, partners, and stakeholders to identify areas with no or restricted access to national park areas and collaborate with landowners to establish avenues for public enjoyment of these lands.”
The National Park System covers more than 85 million acres, and it’s possible that some of those acres are hard, if not impossible, to access because they are surrounded by private lands or have been restricted for some other reason.
Section 4105 of the Dingell Act instructs the NPS and other federal land management agencies to develop a priority list of lands with no or restricted public access that meet a set requirements and considerations. In the coming months, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also seek the public’s input to nominate lands within their jurisdictions under similar criteria.
NPS’s final priority list will be posted online by March 12, 2020, and updated biennially thereafter for 10 years.
Public comments will be accepted through Jan. 4, 2020, via the NPS’s Planning, Environmental and Public Comments website.
Nominated lands must meet the following requirements and considerations:
- Must be managed by the NPS.
- Must be at least 640 contiguous acres.
- Must have significantly restricted or no public access.
- Potential for public access and the likelihood of resolving the absence of, or restriction to public access, are among other criteria for consideration.
- For example, if a sizable parcel of NPS land is completely surrounded by privately owned land with no or restricted public access, the NPS may consider adding this to the priority list and begin working with states, local governments, nonprofit organizations and/or property owners to acquire land or other means of access to the NPS land, ensuring its long-term protection.
Recommendations must include the following information:
- Location of the land or parcel.
- Total acreage of the land or parcel.
- Description or narrative about the land’s restricted or complete lack of access.
- Any additional information the NPS should consider when determining if the land should be on the NPS’s priority list.