The National Park Service recently released its updated proposal to manage elk and bison in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The Abbreviated Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Ungulate Management Plan can be found at parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=25517, a press release stated.
In the plan, the NPS outlines tools to alter elk distribution in the park while continuing to allow public elk hunting in the preserve.
Additionally, the NPS plans to partner with The Nature Conservancy as it assumes responsibilities of managing bison density and distribution in the park.
“We value the contributions of our partners throughout the process, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and tribes,” Great Sand Dunes Superintendent Pamela Rice said in the release.
Elk and bison have long been present in the park. The elk herd in the eastern San Luis Valley has grown to more than 5,000, and The Nature Conservancy manages approximately 1,700 bison on the Medano Ranch.
Historic levels of elk are leading to adverse impacts on sensitive areas of the park, including the wetland vegetation communities where the existing bison herd also spends a disproportionate amount of time.
NPS officials said the planning effort will support long-term protection of resources and is compatible with activities across the broader eastern San Luis Valley landscape.