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Stove Pipe Wells in Death Valley to receive upgrades

Death Valley National Park DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) has released its decision in the Environmental Assessment of proposed improvements in Stovepipe Wells and surrounding areas. The proposed actions include upgrades and changes to utilities, roads, parking areas, campgrounds, and buildings. The original proposal to remove Stovepipe Wells Airstrip was not included in the decision document. 

 The proposed projects include: 

Replace parts of the water and wastewater systems at Stovepipe Wells and Emigrant.  

Improve flood control. 

Rehabilitate and interpret the historic Emigrant Junction. 

Replace Stovepipe Wells Visitor Contact Station and add an adjacent day-use area with picnic tables and outdoor interpretive signs. 

Replace the emergency services building, which is too small for the Park’s ambulance.  

Redesign Stovepipe Wells Campground, which is currently is a gravel parking area with only one restroom.  

Improve Mosaic Canyon Road, parking lot, and trailhead. The NPS will consider a range of surfaces to reduce dust and stabilize the two-mile unpaved road. 

 Some members of the public suggested that Furnace Creek Airstrip and Stovepipe Wells Airstrip should be evaluated and considered in relation to each other. Park staff agreed with this suggestion, and propose to do a more thorough evaluation of pavement conditions, funding availability for maintenance, Timbisha Shoshone Tribal concerns with overflights of their village, and pilot preference. This will review options for maintaining each of the airstrips’ paved runways, converting them to gravel runways, or removing either or both of them. The NPS has struggled to obtain funding to maintain the paved runways, which are deteriorating. 

 The EA process allowed the NPS to evaluate the cumulative effect of multiple projects in the same area. NPS officials say they do not have funding for most of these projects yet. Once each project is funded, architects and engineers will prepare detailed designs. Additional historic and environmental reviews of these designs may be needed before construction begins.