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Conservation plan announced for Hanford Reach

HANFORD - The U.S. Department of Energy last week released a final conservation plan for the Hanford Reach National Monument.

The monument was created from buffer lands no longer needed for the mission of the Department of Energy's Hanford site. As a result, the land has been a largely undeveloped parcel of land for the past 60 years.

Over the past six years, the Energy Department has been working on developing a conservation plan for the 195,000-acre monument site, with a view to balancing public use while maintaining a nature preserve.

A total of eight alternatives were considered, with an alternative labeled C-1 selected as the preferred action.

The Department of Energy says the preferred conservation plan took into consideration public input that for the most part did not want extremes in public use of the monument, either too extensive public use or too tightly controlled.

As a result, the federal agency is looking at a plan whereby biological, geological and cultural resources in the monument would be protected and conserved. At the same time, existing facilities now in place within the monument, such as the White Bluffs Boat Launch, will remain open to the public.

Further, the monument will have public access points and recreational facilities along highways along the perimeter areas of the monument.

Vehicle access to the interior of the monument will be restricted under the preferred plan the Energy Department has selected, although much of the area will be open to foot and other non-motorized access.

For more information about the preferred plans for the nature preserve, call 509-546-8333.

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