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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Trails Plan

Final EIS for proposed trail system on the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - December 1999

From Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - Trails Plan - General Management Plan Amendment

The following excerpt from the EIS discusses Environmental Consequences - describes the potential impacts that would result from implementing each of the alternatives. Describes methodologies used to assess impacts, identifies a series of resource and other impacts, and indicates mitigation measures the park would employ for each potential impact.

Alternative A (the no-action alternative) describes the current situation and assumes the continuation of current management practices for trails. The park would continue to operate without a coordinated trail system and would remain as it currently exists: 31 present park trails, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and a maze of old road traces and informal trails that are not connected.

Alternative B, the park's preferred plan, would double the amount of present park trail miles and provide greater opportunities for biking, cross-country skiing, and equestrian activities. Trails would be organized into four individual networks: the Appalachian, Country Road, Gap View and River Valley. Visitor experience and natural features organize each of these networks with connections to each network and other trail opportunities outside the park. Comfort facilities, signage and interpretation would be expanded as formalized trailheads were developed.

Alternative C also emphasizes networks and different visitor experiences, but is organized in small distinctive geographic areas that emphasize a specific use or highlight park attractions.


IMPACTS TO NATURAL RESOURCES

Fish and Wildlife

The NPS policy states that the service will seek to perpetuate native animal life as part of the natural ecosystem of parks.

Alternative A: The existing 111 miles of trails may have a high level of concentrated use. The disturbance from human presence may already have an adverse effect on displacing wildlife.

Alternative B: The construction of new trails may result in short-term impacts on water quality in the immediate area of construction. Monitoring would ensure that water quality remained high and fishery habitats would continue to be enhanced. The overall adverse effect on the river corridor's fisheries would be negligible. Fishing is already a popular sport within the park and is not expected to increase due to the proposed project.

Vegetation management would help ensure the continuation of habitat diversity for the abundant and diverse wildlife populations of the area. The construction of trail and trailheads would result in some loss of habitat and displacement of wildlife, but the overall effect would be negligible.

The increased number of trails available for public use may result in less concentrated use of present park trails and potentially reduce the likelihood of disturbance to wildlife from trail use. The potential for adverse effects on wildlife may exist; however, we cannot predict the extent of the effect.

Alternative C: Independent Networks Impacts to fish and wildlife will be the same as those under Alternative B.

Vegetation and Non-Native "Exotic" Species

NPS policy states that the service will seek to perpetuate native plant life as part of natural ecosystems. Landscapes and plants may be manipulated only when necessary to achieve appropriate management objectives. Adverse effects to plant communities could be expected when trails construction would require earth disturbance or opening of the tree canopy, providing opportunities for invasion by exotic plants. Impacts would be most significant if the park's most biologically significant plant communities were affected.

However, trail construction may have a beneficial effect in areas currently invaded by exotic plant. Trail construction may allow the opportunity to remove exotic plants and measures would be taken to minimize further invasion.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) This alternative would affect about 111 miles of trail, including 1.0 mile through existing cropland, 13 miles through old fields and thickets, and 97 miles through forest.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail encroaches on two occurrences of biologically significant native plant communities. Other trails skirt the edges of a total of five additional communities. Increased visitor presence in these areas could lead to adverse impacts from collecting or trampling of vegetation. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of potential adverse impacts would require further study and would be addressed by assessments specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) This alternative would affect about 224 miles of trail, including five miles through croplands, 14 miles through old fields and thickets, and 205 miles through forest. About 35 miles of new trail would be cut, including 18 miles of multi-use trail requiring heavy machinery and earth-disturbing activities.

Invasion by exotic plants could be expected in areas of new trail construction, especially in areas where earth would be moved and trees would be cleared (about 18 miles of trail). In these areas, measures would be taken to minimize the amount of earth moving and tree cutting. Disturbed soils would be seeded or planted with native species.

However, some existing or abandoned roadbeds proposed for trail use may have by this time grown over with vegetation, including invasive exotic plants. Upgrading these areas for trails would require clearing the excess vegetation and allowing the opportunity to remove the exotic plants and control further invasion.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail encroaches on two occurrences of biologically significant native plant communities. Other trails would skirt the edges of a total of nine additional communities. Increased visitor presence in these areas could lead to adverse impacts from collecting or trampling of vegetation. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of potential adverse impacts would require further study and would be addressed by environmental assessments specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Alternative C: This alternative would affect about 181 miles of trail, including three miles through croplands, nine miles through old fields and thickets, and 169 miles through forest. About 26 miles of new trail would be cut, including 18 miles of multi-use trail requiring heavy machinery and earth-disturbing activities.

The same mitigation measures would be used in Alternatives B & C. In these alternatives, wherever practical, trails would utilize existing or abandoned roadbeds, including public roads which would be closed to vehicles; abandoned driveways and farm fields; sections of "old" U.S. 209; fire roads; logging roads, and old home sites. Earth disturbance and the associated opportunity for exotic plant invasion would be minimized. Wherever practical, trails would avoid encroaching on natural communities that have been identified by state heritage programs as biologically significant. Trails would skirt such areas or utilize previously existing roadbeds.

Threatened or Endangered Species

National Park Service policy states that the Service will identify and promote the conservation of all federally listed threatened, endangered, or candidate species within park boundaries and their critical habitats. The park also will identify all state and locally listed threatened, endangered, rare, declining, sensitive, or candidate species that are native to and present in the park and their critical habitats.

The paragraphs below discuss potential adverse effects on the federally listed threatened and endangered species in DWGNRA as a result of each of the three alternatives proposed for the park trails plan. However, the discussions presented below are based on the available information. Once the NEPA process is concluded and an alternative has been selected, impacts to threatened and endangered species will be further addressed through consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and preparation of environmental assessments specific to individual trails as they are proposed for development.

Bald eagle

The locations of important eagle habitat in DWGNRA have been provided to USFWS and are used as the basis for identifying potential impacts to this species from construction and use of the proposed trails. The primary effect on bald eagles would result from trail use and construction. Human activity within 400 meters of eagles can force them to abandon the immediate area, preventing them from foraging and/or causing unnecessary expenditure of energy. Repeated intrusions into their habitat can result in physiologic stress at a time when cold weather and reduced foraging opportunities can weaken individuals, making them susceptible to disease, and can lower the reproductive success of adults.

Where trails infringe on the 400 meter buffer surrounding important habitat, strategies can be employed to eliminate disturbance of eagles by human activities. These include: seasonal restrictions on construction activities; seasonal closure of trail segments during critical periods; and use of a combination of distance, existing vegetation, and topographic features to provide visual screening between the important areas and human activity on the trails. Informal consultation with USFWS will ensure that adverse impacts to the species will be avoided.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) Approximately 2.2 miles of existing trails lie within the 400 meter buffer surrounding important wintering eagle habitat. Historically, visitor use of these trails during the winter months has been light and no impact to the eagle population has been documented. The one exception is a portion of the existing snowmobile trail that may result in auditory disturbance of the species in an adjacent foraging area. Use of this trail by the intended user group has been light in recent years due to infrequent snowfalls, therefore the issue of disturbance has not been addressed. Under this alternative, existing trails would continue to be available to the public. Increased visitation with no provision for additional trails may result in increased use of trails within important eagle habitat. This increased use may negatively impact the species. Additionally, more consistent snowfalls may lead to regular use of the existing snowmobile trail resulting in increased disturbance of the species.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) This alternative includes the McDade Recreational Trail that runs the length of the park in Pennsylvania. Approximately 9.25 miles of this trail is within the 400 meter buffer zone surrounding important wintering eagle habitat. The park is working closely with USFWS to ensure that construction and use of this trail does not impact the wintering eagle population. To partially achieve this goal, the McDade Recreational Trail proposes to change a portion of the existing snowmobile trail to exclude motorized vehicles. This would alleviate any potential for auditory disturbance of bald eagles in an adjacent foraging area by continued use of the trail by snowmobiles.

The remaining trails proposed in Alternative B result in an approximately 0.42 mile increase over the existing (Alternative A) trail length within buffer areas surrounding important eagle habitat. The increased number of trails available for public use would result in less concentrated use of present park trails and further reduce the likelihood of disturbance to the species from trail use. Impacts to the species would be avoided by carefully aligning the trails to take advantage of existing vegetative and topographic screening; seasonal restrictions on construction activities; and, if necessary, seasonal closures of trail segments during critical periods.

Alternative C: Independent Networks This alternative also includes the McDade Recreational Trail and the same considerations discussed in Alternative B above will apply to Alternative C. The remaining trail systems proposed in Alternative C result in approximately 0.87 mile reduction in the length of existing trails (as compared to Alternative A) that lie within the 400 meter buffer surrounding important wintering eagle habitat. The increased selection of trails available for public use would result in less concentrated use of existing trails and further reduce the likelihood of disturbance to the species from trail use.

Bog turtle

Suitable habitat for this species is known to occur in 44 wetlands within the park. Based on information from state heritage programs, turtles are presumed to be present at five sites. Potentially, bog turtles could be adversely affected if trails were to cross over or too closely skirt occupied wetlands. Individuals could be accidentally harmed during trail construction or maintenance. Habitat could be degraded by exotic plants invading disturbed areas following construction. Trail users could collect turtles or trample nests.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) One of the trails crosses over a wetland reported to support bog turtles. Six of the trails skirt wetlands known to contain suitable, potential bog turtle habitat.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred)Two of the trails would skirt wetlands reported to support bog turtles. Twelve of the trails would skirt wetlands known to contain suitable, potential bog turtle habitat.

Alternative C: Independent Networks Two of the trails would skirt wetlands reported to support bog turtles. Eleven of the trails would skirt wetlands known to contain suitable, potential bog turtle habitat.

Indiana bat

No populations of this species are currently known to exist in the park. However, field surveys have been limited and suitable habitat is widespread. Indiana bats, if present, could be adversely affected if roost trees were eliminated during trail maintenance or construction, or if trails were to come too close to maternity colonies.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) About 91 of 111 miles of existing trails go through forest. Routine maintenance to remove hazard trees is scheduled to occur during months when Indiana bats would not be present. No maternity colonies are known within DWGNRA boundaries.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) A total of 224 miles of trails would be designated. About 189 miles would utilize existing old roads, etc. and about 35 miles of new trail would be cleared. Of the new trail, about 30 miles, or 17% of the total under this alternative, would traverse forest and could require the cutting of some trees suitable for roosting by Indiana bat.

Alternative C: Independent Networks A total of 178 miles of trails would be designated. About 152 miles would utilize existing old roads, etc. and about 26 miles of new trail would be cleared. Of the new trail, about 23 miles, or 13% of the total under this alternative, would traverse forest and could require the cutting of some trees suitable for roosting by Indiana bat.

Under each of the three alternatives, strategies would be employed to avoid or minimize potential adverse effects to Indiana bats. For example, wherever practical, trails would utilize existing or abandoned roadbeds, including public roads that would be closed to motor vehicles, abandoned driveways and farm fields, sections of "old" U.S. 209, fire roads, logging roads, and old home sites. Clearing of new trail and cutting of potential roost trees would be minimized.

Small whorled pogonia

No populations of this species are currently known to exist in the park. However, field surveys have been limited and the second- or third-growth mixed forest habitat is widespread. A characteristic common to most small whorled pogonia sites is proximity to features, such as streams or logging roads, which create long-persisting breaks in the forest canopy. The use of old woods roads figures prominently in the development of the park's trail system.

To ensure that this species is unlikely to be adversely affected by development or use of the trail system, field surveys would be conducted to assess the presence or absence of small whorled pogonia wherever suitable habitat is found along proposed trails. If populations were to be documented, informal consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would be initiated.

Northeastern bulrush

No populations of this species are currently known to exist in the park. However, survey work has been limited and vernal pools in forest habitat are fairly common. To ensure that this species is unlikely to be adversely affected by development or use of the trail system, field surveys would be conducted to assess the presence or absence of Northeastern bulrush wherever suitable habitat is found along proposed trails. If populations were to be documented, informal consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would be initiated.

Topographic Features

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) There would be no alteration to the topographic features in the park.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) Minimal cutting and filling may be necessary for the upgrading of existing trails and the construction of new trails. This alternative is not likely to have a significant affect on existing topography. Alternative C: Independent Networks Impacts to topographic features will be the same as those under Alternative B.

Soils

The NPS policy states that the service will actively seek to understand and preserve the soil resources of the park and to prevent, to the extent possible, unnatural erosion, physical removal, or contamination of soil, or its contamination of other resources. Trails could impact soils through compaction and erosion. The suitability of soils for recreational trails development is limited by steep slopes, stoniness, and wetness.

Alternative A: About 5% of existing trail miles occur on steep slopes (gradients greater than 25%.) These are trail sections where limitations may be severe and the potential for soil erosion the highest. Under current management, eroded sections of trails are closed or rehabilitated.

Alternative B: This alternative would double the number of park trails. About 4% of trail miles would be located on steep slopes. Many of the new trails would be located on existing roadbeds. Therefore, the additional effect on soils is expected to be minimal. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of potential adverse impacts would require further assessments specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Alternative C: This alternative proposes less trail mileage than Alternative B, yet the potential impacts may be similar. About 4% of trail miles would be located on steep slopes. Many of the new trails would be located on existing roadbeds. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of potential adverse impacts would require further assessments specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Under each of the alternatives, management action would be taken to mitigate adverse, potentially irreversible, impacts on soil caused by heavy visitor use around major park attractions and facilities. Conservation and soil amendment practices may be implemented to reduce impacts. Importation of nonnative soil amendments or other soil materials may be necessary to mitigate degradation, but this alternative must be deemed appropriate by an agronomist or trained soil management specialist and designed to avoid introduction of exotic species.

Wherever practicable, soils and plants affected by construction would be salvaged for use in site restoration. Any surplus soils and plants may be used for restoration of other degraded areas within the park, and surplus soils should be stockpiled for future use. If additional soil and plants are needed to restore disturbed sites, they may be obtained from other sites in the park if it is determined that use of an in-park source will not significantly affect cultural or natural resources or ecological processes. In any case, imported soils must be compatible with existing ones and fulfill horticultural requirements of plants used for restoration.

Floodplains

Alternative A: Some portions of approximately 11 trails are located in the 100 year floodplain. The portions of the trails in the floodplain could be relocated, however the presence of these trail is not likely to have a significant effect on the floodplain. They are not constructed in such a manner as to create a significant obstruction or reduce the area of the floodplain. Potential effects on trails include periodic flooding and clean up.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) Some trails would be located in a floodplain in this alternative. The trails in the floodplain could be located elsewhere, but that would not provide the same experience that is available near the river. Trails in the floodplain would also provide a hiking opportunity on relatively level terrain, which less mobile visitors could enjoy. The presence of these trails is not likely to have a significant effect on the floodplain because they are not constructed in such a manner as to create a significant obstruction or reduce the area of the floodplain.

Trails and trailheads located in floodplains would not be usable if and when they were flooded, which is estimated to occur only a few days per year. Also, trails or trailheads located in or near the floodplain could be damaged by flooding, requiring additional funds for repair or cleanup. Potential effects on trails located in the floodplain include periodic flooding and may require clean up. Impacts of the alternative on the floodplain would be of short duration and would be insignificant to the floodplain and to recreation resources in DWGNRA.

Alternative C: Impacts to floodplains will be the same as those under Alternative B. Water Resources

Surface Waters, Streamflow, Water Quality

NPS policy states that the Service will maintain, rehabilitate, and perpetuate the inherent integrity of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. Specific management policies provide for protection of quality and quantity surface water and groundwater, preservation of floodplains and wetlands, maintaining, protecting, and securing water rights, and protection of aquatic biological resources.

Potential impacts to water resources are associated primarily with stream or wetland crossings and with construction occurring in close proximity to a water resource. An analysis of potential impacts to water resources was conducted by using the geographic information system to overlay each alternative on the available baseline maps of streams, water bodies and wetlands. In comparing the locations of proposed trails relative to the locations of various water resources, a buffer of 150 feet was added to the outer boundary of each water resource. The addition of the 150 feet buffer compensates for any inaccuracies in mapping and for differences in the scales of the various baseline maps versus the scale of the alternative trail plans.

Alternative A: Approximately 34 miles of trails and 12 parking lots are located within 150 feet of surface waters (includes wetlands and streams). There are approximately 76 stream crossings.

This alternative represents existing conditions. The present-day occurrence of significant impacts to surface waters has not been studied. Any impacts currently having an adverse effect on surface waters, streamflow or water quality would continue.

Alternative B: Approximately 76 miles of trails and 30 parking lots would potentially be located within 150 feet of surface waters. The total number of stream crossings under Alternative B would be approximately 195. Approximately 16 miles of new trail construction would potentially occur within 150 feet of surface waters and would require 16 new stream crossings. The remaining 179 crossings occur on present park trails and road traces that will be included in the designated trail system. The condition of these crossings is not known. As site-specific studies are done, many of these crossings are likely to require repair or replacement.

Rehabilitation of existing trails and development of new trails would not have a long-term adverse effect on surface waters, streamflow or water quality. As trails are rehabilitated or developed, trail design will incorporate measures that avoid and minimize adverse impacts, such as locating crossings at the narrowest point, sizing bridges and culverts to avoid constricting streamflow and using stable slope design and restoring the ground surface after construction to avoid long-term erosion problems. There is some potential for erosion and siltation during construction, but adverse impacts would be mitigated by implementation of an approved erosion and sedimentation control plan.

Implementing a designated trail system also provides an opportunity to direct trail use away from sensitive surface water resources and to close trails that may currently be impacting surface waters, if those trails are not included in the designated system. This may result in a positive effect on some surface water resources.

Alternative C: Approximately 64 miles of trails and 26 parking lots would potentially be located within 150 feet of surface waters. The total number of stream crossings under Alternative C would be approximately 164. Approximately 13 miles of new trail construction would potentially occur within 150 feet of surface waters and would require 9 new stream crossings. The remaining 155 crossings occur on present park trails and road traces that will be included in the designated trail system. The condition of these crossings is not known. As site-specific studies are done, many of these crossings are likely to require repair or replacement.

Wetlands

Alternative A: The present-day occurrence of significant impacts to wetlands has not been studied. Any impacts currently having an adverse effect on wetlands would continue.

Alternative B: There would be minimal to no impact on wetlands. As trails are proposed for development, field surveys would be conducted to identify wetlands and the trail design would be revised to avoid these areas. If wetlands cannot be avoided, trail design would incorporate measures that minimize impacts such as crossing a wetland at the outermost edge and using boardwalk on pilings for all wetland crossings to maintain hydrologic flow and allow movement of wildlife.

Alternative C: Independent Networks Impacts to wetlands would be the same as described for Alternative B.

IMPACTS TO CULTURAL RESOURCES

Adverse effects to cultural landscapes could be expected when trails introduce new features, elements and patterns to a historic property or to the overall landscape of DWGNRA. Impacts would be most significant if the park's most significant cultural landscapes were affected.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) Informal trails would not be mitigated or prevented, which may cause accelerated deterioration and impact of cultural landscapes. Otherwise, no other adverse affects would be caused by this alternative.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) Where existing circulation systems within cultural landscapes are utilized and preserved, there would be no change or impact to the property. Where existing routes are significantly altered in width, alignment, grade, vegetation or small-scale features (e.g. bridges/retaining walls), there may be an effect to the cultural landscape. Where new circulation systems are introduced to existing cultural landscapes, there may be an impact to the landscape. This alternative has the greatest number of new routes added to existing and historic circulation systems. Cumulative impacts of using a road as a trail through a historic property then rerouting vehicular traffic to compensate must be evaluated. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of such impacts would require further study and would be addressed by compliance specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Alternative C: Independent Networks Where existing circulation systems within cultural landscapes are utilized and preserved, there would be no change or impact to the property. Where existing routes are significantly altered in width, alignment, grade, vegetation or small-scale features (e.g. bridges/retaining walls), there may be an effect to the cultural landscape. Where new circulation systems are introduced to existing cultural landscapes, there may be an effect to the landscape. Evaluating the likelihood and significance of such impacts would require further study and would be addressed by compliance specific to individual trails or groups of trails.

Strategies to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to cultural landscapes associated with trails construction and visitor use would include:

- During the process of individual trail implementation, research would evaluate affected cultural landscapes to determine significant character-defining features. This evaluation would provide the knowledge necessary to determine the likelihood and significance of impacts and may provide additional impact mitigation measures.

- Where possible, utilize existing roads and road traces that emphasize existing circulation routes. In many cases these existing circulation routes are already an appropriate width to allow for a 6'-8' trail with between 2' - 4' shoulders (approximately 14-feet maximum width). In other situations, a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis to either widen an existing route to accommodate the maximum 14-foot trail or narrow the design width of the trail to fit the existing route. This will depend largely on studies associated with compliance specific to individual trails.

- Where possible, trails would be designed to look appropriate within the cultural landscape(s). Trail surface would remain unpaved and fit within the existing width and approximate grade of historic routes. Vegetation that provides a character-defining feature within the landscape, such as tree rows, allees, fence rows, etc., should not be disturbed and new, inappropriate planting designs should not be introduced. New features such as retaining walls, safety railing, vehicle barriers/bollards, signs and parking should be designed to be compatible with the historic character and material of the landscape. These should be designed and located to minimize adverse impacts on the character and features of the cultural landscape. Changes should be identified, documented and marked in an unobtrusive manner that distinguishes them from that which is existing.

Archaeological Resources

The NPS policy states that archaeological resources, including both organic and mineralized remains in body or trace form, will be protected, preserved, and developed for public enjoyment, interpretation, and scientific research in accordance with park management objectives and approved resource management plans.

Management actions would be taken to prevent illegal collecting and may be taken to prevent damage from natural processes such as erosion. Protection may include construction of shelters over specimens for interpretation in situ, stabilization in the field, or collection, preparation, and placement of specimens in museum collections. The localities and geologic settings of specimens will be adequately documented when specimens are collected.

Protection may also include, where necessary, the salvage collection of threatened specimens that are scientifically significant.

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Management Practices (No-action) There may be some loss of archaeological resources due to visitor use. Less emphasis on interpretive programs could result in a limited public awareness of the significance of cultural resources. Vandalism, illegal collecting, and littering may currently be occurring because visitors are not fully aware of the significance of resources.

Alternative B: Multiple Linking Networks (Preferred) Generally, implementation of this alternative would increase use throughout the recreation area. This would result in increased potential for vandalism of outlying archaeological resources. However, the overall effect would be to increase the protection and preservation of archaeological resources by increasing knowledge and awareness of sites.

Alternative C: Independent Networks Impacts to archaeological resources would be the same as those under Alternative B.

The purpose of the archaeological program at the DWGNRA will be to protect subsurface resources in place and where necessary to mitigate unavoidable effects from ground disturbance. The primary effect of implementing the proposed plan would be to increase the level of protection for archaeological resources in the recreation area.

Specifically training personnel to recognize the value of archaeological resources would enable the staff to further protect these resources. Increased vigilance and enforcement will be the best protection for these resources. If necessary, access to some areas will be restricted, or sites will be covered with fill to protect them.

Additional archaeological surveys and research would identify sites and would generally increase the body of scientific knowledge of human history in the DWGNRA. Protection may be mitigated by research to locate and document archaeological sites. The significance of sites may be evaluated to determine their contextual, spatial, and temporal extent.

Because archaeological excavation and collection is in itself a destructive process representing an irreversible and irretrievable commitment of the resource, excavation will be avoided, and nondestructive investigation techniques will be used as much as possible. The goal will be to protect archaeological sites in place and to recover data from sites that will be unavoidably lost.

When ground-disturbing activities are planned, surface surveying and testing for archaeological resources will be required. If sites are known to exist in an area to be disturbed, or if testing reveals the presence of previous occupation, excavation may be necessary. Every effort will be made to avoid destruction of a site by changing or shifting activities or facilities, or by sensitively designing those facilities. If archaeological sites cannot be avoided, appropriate mitigation will be designed, and all recovered data and artifacts will be preserved.

Noise

Noise has been shown to impact the visitor experience as well as wildlife in some national parks and other areas. Each of the alternatives could affect noise levels on a site specific or local basis. Under Alternative A, existing snowmobile use may have an effect on the use of that same area by other visitors or wildlife. Snowmobile use is relocated under Alternatives B & C and the McDade Trail is located on the existing designated snowmobile path. This action may improve noise levels in the McDade Trail area, but noise will increase in the areas where snowmobiles use other designated areas in the park.

During trail construction or vegetation removal, for example, noise levels could be expected to increase in the site vicinity because of vehicular and heavy equipment activity. However, this increase would be short term. Therefore, although noise levels would likely increase during trail improvements and construction, the proposals should not create a substantial adverse impact upon the resources of the park.

Public Health and Safety

Hunting is a favorite form of recreation for the area; in fact, the park's enabling legislation states that hunting shall be permitted. Hunting in some form occurs almost year around in both states. Hunters routinely use park trails to access hunting areas. Since hunting has been an ongoing activity since the recreation area was created, little conflict, if any, exists between trail users and hunters. Trails are not considered "Safety Zones", and no signing is in place to warn hunters that they are in proximity of trails. However, during peak deer hunting seasons there is some concern for visitor safety on the part of park management. Prior to the start of deer season, the park places special warning signs on trailhead bulletin boards, advising trail users of the hunting season, and encouraging them to wear blaze orange. The park has records of hunters occasionally shooting themselves or one another. There are no records of a trail user being accidentally shot by a hunter.

Other topics discussed in the EIS include Air Quality, Climate Change, Hazardous Materials, Sacred Sites, Prime and Unique Agricultural Lands, and Indian Trust Resources.

The full document is available at: http://www.nps.gov/dewa/press-ea.html

This plan will become final upon signature of a record of decision by the Northeast Regional Director approximately 30 days after issuance of the plan.

Questions on this final document should be addressed to: Superintendent Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area 1 River Road Bushkill, PA 18324.

For further information regarding this document, please contact the Superintendent at (570) 588-2418.

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