Monday, October 5, 2015

Planning for a Future Park

When the 116 acres of battlefield land was purchased, aside from the Maria Furnace Road and Custer’s battle line, we didn’t know exactly what it was we were buying with regards to the land. After the sale was complete and the deed was transferred to the township, our Park Director John A. Miller began laying plans for what needed to be done to the property. 

First thing was first, some type of inventory needed to be completed. Inventory: A statistical survey of land use and natural resource conditions and trends on U.S. non-Federal lands. This inventory would allow us to take a closer look at the actual land itself and determine if there were any immediate concerns or threats with regards to the land from historic resources to natural resources. It helped us to determine what type of resources was needed in order to move forward with the next grant. 

During the inventory process, we learned that the property had a lot of trails which were being used by the neighbors and it also revealed ATV traffic. Several hunting blinds were set up in areas where hunting was never allowed. Then one person found out that the land was transferred to the township and began metal detecting leaving holes behind and trash left next to the holes. So, our Park Director John A. Miller began writing a Monitoring Plan after the entire inventory was completed. 

Inventory also allowed interpretive themes to be formed which will be about the battle, the Confederate retreat and Union pursuit. Other themes came to life such as Monterey Peak and its history. Colonial history also became a small interpretive sub-theme. The inventory process helped to lay out the placement of interpretive waysides, markers and kiosks without destroying the natural or historical resource.

Because of all of the ATVs, metal detectors and hunting blinds, we needed to create a monitoring plan. With neighbors walking the existing trails, we also wanted to see their impact and the trails that they are using to improve the recreation value that the battlefield land has. All of this information would help us to create a monitoring program that would also the battle land to be used for the enjoyment of all people. 

The Planning Stage is the planning portion of the process which is essential to a successful monitoring program. During the planning part of the process, there were eight steps to be taken.

The Five Steps for the Planning Stage:
Step 1 – Determine information needs
Step 2 – Gain and maintain support
Step 3 – Identify and select indicators
Step 4 – Select monitoring methods and develop protocols
Step 5 – Identify needed resources

Once the foundation is laid, the process moves to the implementation stage:
Step 6 – Collect and record data

Once you have collected data over the specified time period, it is necessary to evaluate both the data and the process:
Step 7 – Analyze and report data
Step 8 – Review and revise program

After the monitoring process was implemented, Our Park Director needed to write a plan based upon his finds. At the same time, the plan laid out the foundation of how the park should be laid out with regards to trails and the method trails should be cut in. For example John suggested wood chipping for the trails, the township came back with stone dust as the method to create the trails. Maria Furnace Road, where it was being washed out, would be repaired and the township and John both agreed to leave it its natural state due to interpretive reasons. This protects the natural and historical value of the Maria Furnace Road. The township also wanted to bring back Monterey Peak to its 1880’s appeared in which an overlook once was a popular spot for visitors during the Resort era.

Once all sides agreed to the plan and layout of the park, we have to begin implementing that plan.   

Our Plan Included the Following:
Battlefield Park Background
Historical Information
Interpretive Themes
The Walking Tour 
Management Issues & Threats
Determination of Action
Evaluation and Implement Actions
Monitor and Adapt

Once park is open to the public, we’ll have to go back and monitor and adapt and find a good balance between visitor use and visitor impact upon the land. For example, if we that renegade trails are being opened, then we will need to find ways to close them. 

Visitor Use Management:
Visitor use management is a balance between managing the natural resources for people to use and enjoy and preserving historical character.

Evaluate the Impacts of Visitor Use:
Biophysical - Impacts to the site from recreation.
Social - Impacts from use that affects the visitor experience.
Factors - Influences the amount of impact.
Management Strategies - addresses the problems.
Tactics - Means or tools for implementing strategy.

Creating a park is not as easy as people think. A lot of planning goes into it and a lot of monitoring needs to be done to find a balance between the historical resource and park visitors. In the end, when the park opens, this will help to complete the story of the Battle of Monterey Pass.

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