Prince William Forest Park – historic cabin restoration

The National Park Service is inviting public comment on an environmental assessment regarding their proposal to repair 14 cabins at Prince William Forest Park.

It’s not a tough issue.   The cabins were built originally in the 1930’s.  The No Action alternative is to let the buildings continue to deteriorate over time.  The Preferred Alternative is to replace the roofs, rotted railings, broken windows, etc.

What’s nice to see is how the Federal agency invites public participation before taking action.

Under the Preferred Alternative, the cabins used by the public will continue to be rustic, while a basic “kitchenette” would be added inside one cabin used by staff.  Even the proposed changes that were considered but rejected (installing cedar shake shingles, altering the stain of the exterior) are also listed in the Environmental Assessment.

The shorter Environmental Assessment (EA) is used when a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be overkill – but the document still provides a thorough description of what is being considered, before the National Park Service takes action.

The EA documents the advance consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, Virginia Natural Heritage Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and others.    Starting tomorrow, the general public can comment.

The process by which park managers plan, consult, consider comments, and only then take action… it’s a nice example of how to do business in the sunshine, even for the easy choices.


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