By Samantha Clawson
The National Park Service is considering a major addition to the facilities at the Bear Paw Battlefield 16 miles south of Chinook.
The plans preferred by the Nez Perce National Historical Park include constructing an office building with an educational center, a parking lot, a short access road to the parking lot, plus toilets, picnic shelters, interpretive panels, and windbreaks immediately south of the battlefield. The plan also includes new trails in the battlefield.
Currently, the only facilities are picnic tables, toilets and an interpretive trail.
The Nez Perce National Historical Park has an audio-visual program at the Blaine County Museum but has no personnel at the battlefield.
"Part of why we're looking at doing something there is we have no one on-site," said Douglas Eury, park superintendent.
Having trained personnel at the actual battlefield "should encourage people to have a better understanding," he said.
Eury would like to see a building constructed into the landscape. "We envision it will be a very limited facility," he said.
So far no one has expressed opposition to the several different plans made available for public inspection. The draft environmental assessment was released several weeks ago.
"We haven't really had any time to get responses back," Eury said.
However, he said, "there are some people who feel that putting any facility there would be undesirable."
A final decision on what, if any, facilities will be built will be made later in the year. The site has already been surveyed and Eury is meeting with construction companies to investigate the cost for making changes.
People who have comments can contact Eury at Nez Perce National Historical Park, 39063 U.S. Highway 95, Spalding, ID 83540. Or they can contact the Blaine County Museum in Chinook.