DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public input on the proposed replacement of Salt Creek Boardwalk Trail in Death Valley National Park by March 25, 2023. The NPS is planning this project in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration.
Salt Creek provides the only habitat in the world for the Salt Creek pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus ssp. salinus), which is a species of high concern in the State of California. Since 1976, a ½-mile raised wooden boardwalk has provided visitors easy access to view the pupfish and the desert creek.
A historic flash flood on August 5, 2022, destroyed the boardwalk and carried pieces of it over a mile into designated Wilderness. The flood damaged the unpaved access road, obliterated the parking area, and damaged the vault toilet beyond repair. The flood even changed Salt Creek itself: the stream bed shifted and carved several feet downward.
The NPS proposes to replace the accessible boardwalk and interpretive signs and repair the access road, parking lot and toilet to maintain opportunities to view the endemic Salt Creek pupfish while simultaneously protecting the fish and its fragile habitat. The park proposes to remove damaged infrastructure debris, some of which is now in Wilderness. NPS has funding for this project from federal sources and a donation from Death Valley Natural History Association.
The replacement boardwalk cannot be reconstructed in the previous alignment because the flood changed the terrain. Therefore, the NPS is studying new potential boardwalk alignments adjacent to and crossing the creek.
The NPS is asking for public input on the proposed action and potential alternatives, environmental issues that should be addressed, and considerations regarding visitor experience. The NPS will use this feedback when starting the design process in April.
Public comments should be entered into the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment system https://parkplanning.nps.gov/DEVASaltCreek1 by March 25, 2023. Comments can also be mailed to: Death Valley National Park, ATTN: Salt Creek Boardwalk Replacement, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328 (postmarked by March 25). Commenters should be aware that their entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While commenters can ask that their personal identifying information be withheld from public review, the NPS cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at www.nps.gov/deva.
(From Death Valley National Park)