SVN applauds the National Park Service and its Key Partners for the draft general management plan and environmental impact statement for the Park, now under review. In particular, we appreciate the leadership of Park Superintendent Jacox and the leadership of Planner Chris Stubbs.
SVN strongly endorses Alternative Plan D, the preferred alternative, as a guide to managing the Park’s future. The recommendation to develop a new visitor center, establish six key interpretative themes for Park visitors and assign clear responsibilities for visitor programs to the National Park Service (NPS) and the Park’s Key Partners will greatly enhance the visitor experience.
SVN also supports the emphasis in Alternative Plan D on creating written, shared strategies, with greater coordination among the Park and its Key Partners, to pursue the 10 management elements, ranging from land protection to the visitor experience. We believe this commitment to collaborative planning, decision-making and program development will provide greater efficiency and leverage of scarce financial and other resources and will heighten the protection of natural, historic and cultural resources.
The Shenandoah Valley Network particularly supports the management “zones” in Alternative Plan D, which clearly reflect the distinct land uses and land protection goals within the Park. The Sensitive Resource Zone on Cedar Creek and the North Fork of the Shenandoah should provide much-needed education and protection for the rare, endangered and other plant and animal species in this zone, while the Large Events Zone should offer ample space for the historic reenactments that have made the Park nationally renowned. We appreciate the careful analysis of the different kinds of land protection and education efforts that will be needed for each zone.
If we were to find a fault with the well-thought out draft management plan for the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, it would be the lack of any clear steps to expand the Park boundaries to more accurately reflect the Cedar Creek Battlefield Core Area, as described in 1992 the NPS Study of Civil War Sites in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As the management planning process moves forward, we encourage NPS to consider adding boundary expansion to Alternative D to protect the critical historic and natural resources that lie outside the boundaries of the Park. Consideration of expansion is particularly important in light of the ongoing threat of new limestone quarry pits.