MCINNIS CANYONS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA
RABBIT VALLEY CAMPING PROJECT
NEWS: A decision has been issued and the project has been approved.
Finding of no Significant Impact
Attachment A - National Historic Preservation Act Consultation
Attachment B - Public Comment Response
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze proposed camping facilities and to establishment of a fee system for camping in the Rabbit Valley area (see map in the Maps section). The purpose of the project is to improve sustainable camping opportunities while continuing to protect the natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Rabbit Valley Planning Area. The BLM needs to designate additional campsites to respond to visitor demand for overnight visitation to the project area and manage the biological and cultural resource impacts associated with camping.
The Proposed Action is to develop up to 75 campsites in the Rabbit Valley Planning Area. Approximately 35 to 40 campsites would accommodate Recreational Vehicles (RVs) and camper trailers and approximately 35 campsites would accommodate car and tent camping. Some of the car and tent camping would also accommodate small camper trailers, such as pop-ups.
Long-term, all camping in Rabbit Valley would be limited to developed campgrounds. Implementation would include a transitional period, since there are currently only 19 campsites within the developed campgrounds and the long-term target is 75 campsites. During the transitional period, individual sites or areas would be designated for camping outside of developed campgrounds. The BLM would implement a requirement for an Individual Special Recreation Permit (ISRP) for camping in these sites or areas. ISRPs would include terms and conditions of use designed to address issues that arise from overnight use. As resources become available to construct developed campgrounds, designated sites or areas outside developed campgrounds would be closed (i.e. if a campsite is constructed in a developed campground, a designated site or area outside a developed campground would be closed to overnight use).
Upon full development of the proposed campgrounds, all undeveloped-dispersed sites in Rabbit Valley that are not incorporated into a campground would be rehabilitated and closed to camping use.
Proposed Campground Developments (See Map):
Construction would likely be phased over several years as funding becomes available.
Develop the RV and Trailer Group Use Area into a Campground:
These sites would be designed to accommodate RV’s and camper trailers. The total number of sites is yet to be determined but the BLM estimates 20 sites. Each site would accommodate two to five vehicles with trailers upon full development.
1. Install one vault toilet, six metal fire pits, six picnic tables, and a kiosk in the current RV and Trailer group use area (gravel lot east of the main entrance).
2. Expand the size of the gravel lot from 2.4 acres to five acres.
3. Designate and develop “satellite sites” along the main road, and down spur roads, between the staging area and the Rabbits Ear Trailhead that are deemed suitable to accommodate RVs and trailers:
- The satellite sites would be associated with the RV and Trailer Group Use Area. Collectively, this would be would be the RV and Trailer Group Use Campground.
- Sign all satellite sites consistently (same look and feel). There would be additional signage along the roads that point to these sites as necessary. There will be signs to inform visitors when they are leaving the campground.
- Install one metal fire pit and one picnic table at each satellite site.
- Install post and cable barriers (8 by 8 inch treated wood posts with ½-inch steel cable) to delineate sites.
- Develop a turn-around area after the last satellite site (east end).
- Continue to grade and improve the road as necessary to provide reasonable access for large recreational vehicles and trailers.
- Stabilize sites with gravel as funding allows.
4. Install up to two additional restrooms east of the current 2.4-acre gravel lot within the proposed project area footprint.
Expand camping opportunities at Knowles Overlook Campground:
1. The number and location of campsites will depend on what areas the BLM engineering and resource staff deem as suitable for development. The BLM estimates that 15 to 20 sites would be developed.
2. Each site would have a metal fire pit and a picnic table.
3. The BLM would install an additional vault toilet depending on the number of additional sites developed and their distance to the existing toilet.
4. The BLM would install post and cable barriers (8 by 8 inch treated wood posts with ½-inch steel cable) to delineate sites as necessary.
5. An additional road would be constructed to provide access to the new sites.
6. The road would be stabilized with gravel as funding allows.
7. The BLM will install post and cable barriers at the West end of the expanded Knowles campground to discourage motorized and mechanized use in a sensitive plant area.
8. All new road and tent site development will be at least 20 meters from known current or past Dolores River skeleton plant locations. If construction is completed between April 1st and July 31st a BLM ecologist or BLM approved contractor will flag construction routes to limit impacts to known or previously undetected Dolores River skeleton plant individuals or populations. Periodic monitoring of sensitive plant populations around the Knowles campground will be performed as time and funding permit, this may be achieved through partners or citizen science groups.
Develop the dispersed sites on the bench north of I-70 into a developed campground:
1. Designate and develop sites to accommodate RVs and trailers for a total of 10 to 15 individual sites as deemed suitable by engineering and resource staff.
2. Develop the road into a loop.
3. The campground would have at least one vault toilet.
4. Each site would have a metal fire pit and a picnic table.
5. The BLM would install post and cable barriers (8 by 8 treated wood posts with ½-inch steel cable) to delineate sites as necessary.
- The BLM would stabilize the road and sites with gravel as funding allows.
Convert the Castle Rocks Campground into a day-use picnic area
1. Move the vault toilet at the McDonald Creek Trailhead (500 feet from Castle Rocks), if feasible, to the Jouflas Horse Parking and Camping Lot.
Develop a horse trailer parking and camping area near the Jouflas Horse Trail
1. Designate and develop the site to accommodate horse trailers. Space for up to 10 trailers to park for the day would be developed as deemed suitable by engineering and resource staff.
2. Install one vault toilet. This would come from the Castle Rocks Campground or the McDonald Creek Trailhead if it is feasible to move.
3. Each site would have a metal fire ring and a picinc table.
4. Stabilize the road and sites with gravel as funding allows.
5. Install post and cable barriers to delineate sites as necessary.
Develop a fee for overnight visitation to the Rabbit Valley Planning Zone (NOTE: This is a not part of the environmental assessment and will be determined through a different Federal Register Notification process)
A separate fee proposal is being developed to allow fees to be charged for camping within the proposed project area both at the developed campgrounds and for the transitional ISRP (See the Draft Business Plan for details).
Public scoping was conducted from June 26, 2018 through July 25, 2018. Scoping comments help the BLM developed the proposed action and identify issues that need to be addressed in the environnmental analysis. You can find more information on the purpose of public scoping under the How to get Involved section. The BLM sought comments on the Proposed Action, as well as a draft Business Plan that outlines a proposed fee system for camping in Rabbit Valley. Both documents are available on the Documents page.