Little Round Top is one of the most visited landscapes within Gettysburg National Military Park. A broad area around the summit with numerous cultural landscape features is subjected to a tremendous amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic throughout the year. Overuse without sufficient visitor wayfinding has negatively impacted cultural resources, both battle era features such as earthworks, and commemorative features such as monuments there. Heavy visitor use has also contributed to the degradation of the natural landscapes features, resulting in serious erosion of the site and compaction of soils that inhibits the growth of grasses and other ground cover. One of the primary circulation problems at Little Round Top is the conflict between buses, pedestrians, cars, bicycles and Segways.
A public scoping session will be Thursday, December 4, at the conclusion of Gettysburg National Military Park’s Advisory Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be at the park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg. Since the meeting is being held after visiting hours, access will be through the museum’s group tour entrance.
At the scoping meeting the public will be invited to comment on strategies that provide solutions for overuse, overcrowding and landscape degradation, and identify appropriate locations for visitor conveniences at Little Round Top, as part of an environmental assessment (EA) planning process.
Comments from scoping will be incorporated into an EA. In 2012, to better understand the site and its uses today and over the past 150 years the National Park Service (NPS) prepared a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) detailing site history, existing conditions, character analysis and recommendations. Through the CLR, a defined purpose and need was developed for the preservation of Little Round Top: Provide solutions for overuse, overcrowding and landscape degradation and identify appropriate locations for visitor conveniences at Little Round Top, one of Gettysburg National Military Park’s most heavily visited sites.
Stay tuned for your opportunity to comment on this EA in spring 2015. To accomplish the NPS goal of protecting park resources while providing solutions for use of Little Round Top, we are now conducting an EA planning process to guide decisions on the rehabilitation of Little Round Top. In spring 2015, the EA will be issued for public review, followed by a NPS decision document. The EA will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508); the NEPA regulations of the Department of the Interior (43 CFR Part 46); and NPS Director’s Order #12, Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis, and Decision-Making (DO-12) and accompanying DO-12 Handbook (2001).
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, the Gettysburg Foundation plans on raising funds for the rehabilitation of this important piece of ground, which will include NPS plans for vehicular circulation, parking for cars and buses, pedestrian circulation, and gathering spaces for groups and individuals, determined through the EA.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 12/2/14