January 8th, 2007
Currently in process: the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is preparing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the USFS and FoWR.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a document describing a bilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action, rather than a legal commitment.
Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) will present the USFS a draft scoping letter pursuant to NEPA. This letter will describe the proposed action regarding the preparation of an Evironmental Assessment (EA) on the long-term management of Williamson Rock and the potential for reopening access to climbing activities. The following proposed alternatives shall be included:
-Dry Season Only Access (No flowing water in stream) – Preferred alternative includes monitoring and maintenance, enforcement of seasonal closure, signage, human waste management and parking controls.
-Restricted activity under limited conditions.
-No project alternative – Return to conditions prior to closure (not a viable option).
The no project alternative is included in the document to serve as a baseline for other alternatives and is required of all NEPA documents. In the EA you must analyze the potential impacts for each alternative. By including the no project alternative you state what the condition or environmental impacts would be in the event the proposed project is not carried out.
The scoping process will include an internal USFS review followed by a 30-day public scoping period.
As previously stated, the process is required to allow the potential re-opening of Williamson Rock, which has been closed to public access due to designation of critical habitat for the mountain yellow legged frog. Throughout the course of this lengthy NEPA and Endangered Species Act consultation ongoing closure of Williamson Rock is required and the climbing community should actively discourage its use to maintain current agency/FoWR relations.
FoWR expects this process to result in ongoing dialog with the USFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the general public – resulting in a plan that meets the needs of all concerned within the parameters of NEPA, Forest Service Guidelines and the Federal Endangered Species Act. This will also further the intent of FoWR to move forward with the NEPA process and maintain cooperative relations with the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.