Public Comment Sought for Replacing Bandelier Electrical System

NPS News:

The National Park Service (NPS) has initiated the planning process to complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the replacement of primary and secondary electrical systems within Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monument.

The purpose of the proposed action is to provide the Monument visitor center and headquarters area with a reliable electrical system that is readily and easily serviceable and complies with Los Alamos County and federal regulations.

The current electrical system, which is approximately 50 years old, has exceeded its anticipated life cycle of 30-40 years, and is in need of replacement. Further, the existing lines were direct buried (not installed within a conduit), making them difficult to locate and repair.

 In 2011, the primary electrical system experienced three critical failures along the Entrance Road, resulting in damage not only to the electrical lines, but also to the road. Additionally, the transformer between the primary and secondary electrical systems is within the 100-year floodplain and could be damaged in a major flood event.

The NPS is developing alternatives that would solve these critical electrical issues and potentially provide solutions for future utility needs. The NPS is considering five preliminary action alternatives for alignment of the new electrical lines. Four of the alignments would use horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Each of these alignments would originate near the stables area in Frijoles Canyon. Under each of these alternatives, HDD would be used to bore upward from the Canyon, terminating in developed areas on top of the mesa (Alternatives B-E).

The fifth alignment would involve trenching along Entrance Road (Alternative A) from the developed area in Frijoles Canyon near the visitor center. All alignments assume trenching in Frijoles Canyon along the road from the stable area to the developed area in the vicinity of the visitor center. The EA will analyze the environmental effects of the alternatives on the human environment, including natural and cultural resources at Bandelier National Monument.

NPS is currently in the scoping phase of the project and is soliciting comments on potential impacts and/or project alternatives from interested agencies, groups, and individuals as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

In addition, NPS is soliciting comments or concerns about the historic properties within the project area and the effects that the project could have on them in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

The NPS encourages the public to comment electronically via the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at Comments received during the public scoping period will be considered during the planning process to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the EA and NHPA Section 106 process.

Comments may also be mailed directly to: Jason Lott, Superintendent, Bandelier National Monument,15 Entrance Road,Los Alamos, NM 87544

Comments would be most helpful if received them no later than Nov. 25.

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, note that your entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made publically available at any time. While you may ask in your comment to withhold your public identifying information from public review, NPS cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

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