«FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT MARIN EQUESTRIAN STABLES PLAN National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior ...»
FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
MARIN EQUESTRIAN STABLES PLAN
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
This Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is prepared by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA, the Park), a unit of the National Park Service (NPS), for the Marin Equestrian Stables Plan, in accordance with the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NPS NEPA guidance in Director’s Order 12 (2011). The FONSI combined with the Marin Equestrian Stables Plan Environmental Assessment (Plan/EA), comprise the full and complete NEPA record of the analysis of environmental impacts and the NPS decision‐making process on selecting an implementation strategy. None of the modifications to the selected Plan (described below) alters the impact assessments contained in the EA or results in major changes to the alternatives or mitigations measures. This document summarizes the alternatives considered in the Plan/EA and focuses on the Selected Alternative. It includes the decision rationale for modifying Alternative B, Option 2 (Alternative B2) from that presented in the Plan/EA and for selecting Alternative B2 for implementation. The primary modifications to Alternative B2 are the future relocation of the Park Horse Patrol stables to the Rodeo Valley stables rather than the Tennessee Valley stables as was described in the EA, and the addition of a covered ring at Rodeo Valley stables. Other changes included making specified uses of particular structures optional, allowing the future lessee more flexibility in their program. The FONSI lists the specific mitigation measures the NPS will follow when implementing the Plan/EA and explains the reasoning behind the statement that the Selected Alternative would result in no significant impacts to the environment as defined by the NEPA regulations (42 CFR pts. 1500‐1508) and NPS NEPA guidance in Director’s Order 12. The FONSI, Mitigation Measures, and the Plan/EA (along with Errata attachment) will guide future actions for equestrian facilities on GGNRA lands in southern Marin County. With the signing of this FONSI by the Pacific West Regional Director, the modified Alternative B Option B2, is approved and adopted for implementation. Also, in keeping with 2006 Management Policies, a Determination of No Impairment (DNI) for the selected alternative was also prepared (Attachment C).
PURPOSE, NEED, and PLAN OBJECTIVESThe Plan/EA examines four alternative management strategies for the long‐term operation of four equestrian facilities on GGNRA lands in southern Marin County. One of the four stables, Tennessee Valley stables, is privately‐operated under a lease agreement with GGNRA. Two stables are privately operated under permits: Golden Gate Dairy, and Rodeo Valley stables. These stables were in operation when GGNRA was created in
1972. The 1980 General Management Plan (GMP), the primary guidance document for the Park, included the continued operation of the three stables but with more services to the general public and non‐discriminatory membership policies. A fourth stable, operated by the NPS and known as the Lower Tennessee Valley stable, houses the Park Horse Patrol; future management of this site, along with the three privately‐run stables, is addressed in the Plan/EA. The location of the stables is shown in Attachment A. Table‐1 provides basic information on the operation of the four stables. GGNRA lands in southern Marin County constitute the planning area for the Plan/EA. Golden Gate National Recreation Area Marin Equestrian Stables Plan Page 2 Finding of No Significant Impact Table 1 ‐‐ Existing Equestrian Facilities on GGNRA Lands in Southern Marin County Horse Capacity (Year‐round / NPS Summer only/ Name Operated by Authorization Public Programs? Over‐night stays) Golden Gate Ocean Riders of month to month No 11/0/0 Dairy Marin permit Yes, boarding, classes, events, 5‐yr. permit till Tennessee Miwok Stables donated services, public may 2012, then month 42/10/4 Valley Stables Center rent overnight stalls (“horse to month permit hotel”) Rodeo Valley Presidio Riding month to month Yes, horse hotel 19/0/8 Stables Club permit Lower Ranger run Yes, trained volunteers care for GGNRA Park Tennessee program with 30 and ride NPS horses, provide 4/0/0 Horse Patrol Valley Stables volunteers visitor contacts The Plan/EA builds on the guidance in the 1980 GMP by providing a comprehensive equestrian plan to guide the continued improvements to the operation, facilities and public programs of the stable sites. Each stable will have an individual site and operations plan to provide the framework for continued progress towards GMP goals including the protection of historic structures, improvement of water quality and conservation of site soils. The Selected Alternative of the Plan/EA would conform to the Preferred Alternative of the Draft GMP and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which is currently in the planning process. When completed, the updated GMP would supplant the 1980 GMP. The Draft GMP EIS was circulated to the public for comment in fall of 2011. The Final GMP EIS is in preparation and is expected to be published in winter of 2013. Purpose: The purpose of the Plan/EA is to provide for comprehensive improvement of equestrian sites, facilities, programs and stables management on Park lands in southern Marin County. The Plan is designed to improve visitor services, and to preserve, protect and enhance Park natural and cultural resources in a manner consistent with NPS plans and policies. When the planning process is complete, the NPS will conduct a request for proposals for a competitive selection of operators for the stables. Selected operators will be granted longer terms leases giving the stability and insurance to run a successful program and undertake the necessary improvements to the sites. Need for the Plan: The Plan/EA is a comprehensive plan for stables management which addresses many of the long‐standing issues that have impeded improvements to stables operations in the past. A comprehensive plan is needed to guide the management of the stables in GGNRA. Over the years, changes have been made incrementally to stables operations without benefit of a comprehensive review of each facility. The review will help determine the number of horses appropriate for each site, an important factor in planning future improvements. Short‐term permits hinder business planning. The stables currently operate under month‐to‐month permits which does not encourage long‐range planning by the operators, including decisions to make considerable capital investments in the stables or develop broader public programs. Opportunity for competitive bidding: There is a need to provide an opportunity for competitive bidding for the leasing of NPS lands and equestrian facilities. GGNRA stables are in poor condition and need restoration, repairs, upgrades and maintenance. These improvements would enhance the appearance of the stables and promote the expansion of Golden Gate National Recreation Area Marin Equestrian Stables Plan Page 3 Finding of No Significant Impact opportunities for public programs. Improvements will preserve historic landscapes and structures while providing the framework for safer and more functional sites.. Public benefit and programs need to be broadened. Two privately operated stables are currently not permitted to provide programs for visitors to the Park other than to the stable program participants. There is an opportunity to broaden public outreach and programming at each stables site to benefit a greater number of the public, riders and non‐riders alike. There is no defined approach to safety and emergency plans. The stables should be required to develop safety and emergency response plans including posting emergency procedures and cautionary signing. Repairs and upgrades to the stables will improve overall health and safety of the staff, program participants, visitors and the animals boarded there. There is a need for improved sanitation facilities. Upgrades to sanitation facilities need to be considered and sewage treatment systems need to be evaluated for relocation, redesign or replacement. There is a need for site‐wide fire prevention programs. Fire safety plans, inspections and follow‐up improvements will reduce the risk of fire damaging the historic structures or threatening staff, program participants and animals. Fire safety plans will require posting procedures, staging equipment and practicing response to fire which will improve overall safety. Site planning will support fire safety, for example, flammable feed storage would be separated from horse stalls. On‐site management requirements for cultural resources are not clearly identified. The three privately‐run stables operate in cultural landscapes, historic structures, and are near archeological sites that are protected by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Historic Structure Reports and Cultural Landscape Reports are needed to direct the future development of each site. Best Management Practices (BMPs) for resource protection are not clearly or uniformly defined. The stables operators have been working with NPS to mitigate environmental effects by changing existing practices or incorporating new practices into the management of the stables. Many of these Best Management Practices (BMPs) have focused on improvement of surface and ground water quality and minimizing soil erosion. The BMPs appropriate for each stable need to be evaluated and compiled and incorporated into terms of the long‐term leases that would be granted to stable operators. The NPS in southern Marin has operational and storage needs. GGNRA operations, such as horse patrol, trail maintenance, volunteer stewardship, ranger offices, residences and areas for public contact, need adequate space in structurally sound facilities that are accessible and integrate successfully into the park environment. Storage space is needed for stewardship supplies and for maintenance equipment, vehicles, tools and materials. In areas with important cultural resources, efforts will be made to use existing contributing structures whenever operationally appropriate or economically prudent (NPS 2006, Policies 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168). Plan Objectives: The following objectives were developed to ensure that the Plan would fulfill its stated purpose. The Selected Alternative for the Plan will: Determine which sites are most appropriate for long‐term stables based on environmental conditions, ability to protect natural and cultural resources, and transportation options.