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The National Park Service (NPS) has released an Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzes a county and state led effort to reconstruct and repave the 1.8-mile section of Cave Mountain Road (Newton County Road 9560) that crosses Buffalo National River’s park boundaries. The proposed project is designed to reduce environmental impacts of the current road and improve access. It is funded by the State of Arkansas with the road work to be completed by the Newton County Roads Department.
The proposed road work would widen the 1.8-mile county road, where feasible, to 24 feet of pavement. Road width is currently between 15 and 22 feet wide. The project will consist of tree removal, replacement of existing culverts, the addition of new culverts, road widening, ditching, adding guardrails in certain locations, and potentially removing rock features within the proposed road corridor. The road will be resurfaced with a base layer of compacted clay, crushed stone and gravel, and then hardened asphalt. The project is a collaborative effort between Buffalo National River, Newton County, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and the Buffalo River Conservation Committee.
The EA was prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide the decision-making framework that 1) analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet objectives of the proposal, 2) evaluates potential issues and impacts to Buffalo National River’s resources and values, and 3) identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.
The EA analyzes a “no action” alternative and the “proposed action” alternative. The “proposed action” alternative was identified based on NPS goals and objectives, consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, internal and external scoping, guidance from existing Buffalo National River plans, and policy guidance from the NPS.
How to Comment: The EA is available for public review and comment for 30 days, from February 7, 2022 to March 9, 2022. The NPS encourages public participation throughout the planning process. During this current phase, the NPS invites the public to submit written suggestions, comments, and concerns regarding the EA. There are three ways to submit comments now:
Submit comments electronically through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system (preferred method). The PEPC can be accessed at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/Cave_Mountain_Road. From here, you can access the EA document and select the “Comment Now” button.
Submit written comments by sending a letter to: Buffalo National River, ATTN: Cave Mountain Rd EA, 402 N. Walnut Street, Harrison, AR 72601.
Submit email addressed to [email protected].
Comments will not be accepted verbally or by fax, or in any way other than those specified above. All comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, March 9, 2022.