The National Elk Refuge (Refuge) is planning to build a replacement visitor centre, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week that it had assessed the consequences and alternatives related to those plans. Construction is expected to begin in 2025.
The Final Environmental Assessment (EA) concluded that the quality of the immediate physical or social environment would not be significantly impacted by either the proposed new tourist centre or its alternative, either singly or collectively.
In this EA, two options for taking action were reviewed along with a no-action option. The National Elk Refuge‘s current visitor centre would be replaced with a new one to meet the growing number of visitors to the area under the proposed plan. The proposed action also entails renovating and improving the tourist centre’s connected property, which is presently known as Murie Family Park.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would continue to use the current centre under the no-action option, which would not build any additional buildings. The current structure is more than 40 years old and has a number of maintenance issues. The structure also fails to adhere to the Architectural Barriers Act’s accessibility standard.
The new facility, which was partially sponsored by the Great American Outdoors Act, would act as the Refuge’s main entrance. The entirely renovated building will include both indoor and outdoor components, allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reach a wider audience among the millions of domestic and international tourists that travel to the Jackson Hole region each year.
The National Wildlife Refuge System’s broader conservation objectives are also explained, according to Visitor Services Manager Raena Parsons. “Our goal is to create a welcoming space where audiences can be introduced to the Refuge, find opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation provided by the Service, understand our role in conserving wildlife habitat, and learn about our role in protecting wildlife habitat,” she said.
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