Tavasci Marsh environmental assessment available

Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments Superintendent Kathy Davis has announced that an environmental assessment for the management and habitat enhancement of Tavasci Marsh at Tuzigoot National Monument is now available for review.

Tavasci Marsh has undergone extensive changes to its hydrology from its century-long history as a farmland and pasture area for cattle. Previous farming activities such as draining and leveling the marsh have contributed to the current hydrologic system causing abrupt and narrow transition zones to the more upland mesquite bosque, with reduced areas of transitional zones including sedge/rush shorelines, shrubby willow fringe, and native grassland habitats.

Tuzigoot National Monument is proposing to manage Tavasci Marsh to enhance wildlife habitat and increase recreational and educational use of the marsh. The environmental assessment that was prepared to determine the impacts on park resources considers three alternatives including the no-action alternative and two action alternatives.

The preferred alternative (Alternative C) proposes to enhance the marsh habitat through long-term adaptive hydrologic management through the construction of water control structures and a water conveyance channel designed to allow fluctuation of water levels in the marsh's northern section (above the old road bisecting the marsh). The preferred alternative also proposes for visitor enjoyment creating a loop trail system, a boardwalk, and viewing platform in addition to upgrading the footbridge in the marsh. Initiating rule-making procedures for allowing bike riding to officially occur on a designated trail to allow connection between two state park lands is also proposed in the preferred alternative.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, calls on federal agencies to consider environmental issues as part of their decision making process and to involve interested parties in the process. The NEPA process for the maintenance facility was initiated in October 2009 with a public scoping letter soliciting issues and concerns on the preliminary proposed project. Responses to these scoping efforts were used during preparation of the EA.

The EA will be on public review for 30 days. The document can be reviewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/tuzi by clicking on "Tavasci Marsh," and then scrolling to "Open for Public Comments."

A printed copy of the document will also be available at the following addresses:

• Headquarters

Montezuma Castle/Tuzigoot Nat'l Mon.

527 South Main St.

Camp Verde, AZ 86324

• Tuzigoot National Monument Museum/Visitor Center

25 W. Tuzigoot Rd.

Clarkdale, AZ 86324

• Cottonwood Library

100 S. Sixth St.

Cottonwood, AZ

Comments can also be submitted online at the same web address above (the preferred method) or mailed to Kathy Davis, Superintendent, Montezuma Castle National Monument, P.O. Box 219, Camp Verde, AZ 86322. Comments will be accepted through June 21, 2011.The National Park Service encourages public participation through the NEPA process. After the public review period, the comments received will be carefully considered before a decision is made regarding implementation of actions proposed in the Tavasci Marsh EA.

For additional information, please contact Sharon Kim, Chief of Natural Resources, at (928) 649-6195, ext. 226.

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