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Mesa Verde seeks public comment on two projects

The Spruce Tree House complex in Mesa Verde National Park has been closed because of the danger of rock fall from above. A stabilization project is in the planning stages. (Durango Herald file)
Spruce Tree House arch stabilization and fire management plan needed

The public can comment on two projects being planned at Mesa Verde National Park.

The comment period for a proposal to stabilize the sandstone arch at the front of Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park has been extended to Jan. 21.

In response to increasing rock falls, the park closed Spruce Tree House in October 2015.

“The combination of continued rock falls from the arch face and underside and the questionable overall arch stability compelled the park to perform analyses of the arch for stability and safety,” stated Park Superintendent Kayci Cook Collins in a project summary calling for public comment.

She stated that a thorough analysis has been conducted to determine the engineering issues and requirements needed to complete stabilization design for the arch.

Stabilization would not include any alteration of the cliff dwelling structures within the alcove.

The stabilization design incorporates features and contractor requirements for protecting natural and cultural resources during construction.

The park invites public comments regarding the stabilization project, including the design, preliminary alternative concepts, potential issues with park resources, and any other relevant ideas.

Aug 12, 2022
Mesa Verde welcomes back visitors; upgrades are underway
Aug 12, 2022
Spruce Tree cliff dwelling shut down

Once comments are submitted and reviewed, the project will move to the next phase, which will include assessing compliance needs under the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act and other environmental regulations.

To comment on the Spruce Tree House arch stabilization plan, and for more information, visit parkplanning.nps.gov

Fire management plan needed

Mesa Verde National Park is is proposing to develop and implement a Fire Management Plan at Mesa Verde National Park and Yucca House National Monument.

A public comment period for the project runs from Jan. 6 to Feb. 5.

According to project documents, fire management activities are currently conducted under a Wildfire Emergency Response Procedure, which only allows for full fire suppression and limited and localized fuel treatments to maintain defensible space in developed areas and around critical infrastructure.

The WERP for the parks will expire in 2022, leaving few options for fire management without development and implementation of the FMP.

The fire management plan would guide fire program activities and accommodate changes in federal wildland fire policy, guidance and practices based on ongoing improvements in the science of wildland fire management.

The Long Mesa Fire burned 2,600 acres in Mesa Verde Park in July 2002. More than a decade later, a multitude of factors seem to be inhibiting piñon-juniper regeneration in the burned areas. (Jerry McBride Durango Herald)

“The plan would provide a flexible range of options and activities that could be used to respond to changes in environmental conditions and the specific needs of fire management within the parks,” according to a plan summary.

The National Park Service will analyze impacts of the fire management plan on resources such as, cultural resources, vegetation, soils, wildlife, water resources, wilderness, and visitor use and experience.

To comment and view documents the fire management plan for Mesa Verde National Park and Yucca House National Monument visit parkplanning.nps.gov.