NPS releases environmental impact assessment for proposed renovations

Managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) which describes the possible resource and visitor impacts of the Park proposal to improve concession facilities at Cades Cove Campground Store. The EA is available for public review at the NPS Planning website, http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm, and at a number of public libraries, listed below. The public is welcome to comment by Aug. 10 on the planned renovations through the website or by mail to the park headquarters.

The project site is located adjacent to Cades Cove Campground and approximately 8 miles from Townsend, Tennessee. The proposed project would improve the existing concession facilities to enhance facilities and services for the public within the scope of the Concession Facilities Improvement Program included in the concession contract under which the store is operated.

The current Cades Cove Campground Store facilities consist of a campground store building with attached public restrooms and open-sided amphitheater and a bicycle rental building. Services provided in the Cades Cove Campground Store building include; groceries, convenience items, camping supplies, a snack bar and deli, and limited souvenirs. Services provided in the Cades Cove Campground Store Bicycle Rental building include; bicycle rental and other associated bicycle services, firewood and ice sales, limited souvenir sales, and vending.

Although these facilities adequately served their purpose at the time of construction (1958), visitation to Cades Cove has increased significantly since that time and the facilities no longer meet the needs of the concessioner or the Park visitor.

Two alternatives are analyzed in the Environmental Assessment. Under Alternative A, there would be no changes made to the existing buildings, sidewalks, or accessible ramps. Under the Alternative B, the bicycle rental building will be expanded by approximately 1,600 square feet for the storage of rental bicycles and for the storage of retail stock, vending machine stock, and firewood storage. Several sidewalks will be widened and sidewalks will be added to safely and adequately accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic and improve accessibility. The area between and adjacent to the two buildings will be landscaped to add some native plantings and benches. Dependent on future need, an outside service window for the snackbar may be constructed on the west side of the campground store building.

Under requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Park has released an EA that states the potential impacts of the proposed concession facilities improvements on such Park resources as natural resources, soils, and cultural landscape. The EA also weighs the impact of the proposed improvements on aesthetics and visitor experience, public use and access, and Park management and operations. The EA is available for public review at the Park Headquarters in Gatlinburg, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee and at the following public libraries: Anna Porter Public Library, 207 Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg; and Lawson-McGee Library, 500 West Church Avenue, Knoxville. The EA has also been posted and is available for public review on the NPS’ Planning web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm. Click on the “Cades Cove Campground Store EA” link. The public can provide comments directly on the project site or submit written comments by mail to:

Superintendent, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Comments should be submitted by Aug. 10, 2009.

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