US Forest Service Supervisor Signs National Environmental Policy Act Study



The Next Key Step in Acquiring Campus Site:

 US Forest Service Signs Off on National Environmental Policy Act Study

August 12, 2013, Payson, Arizona – – The US Forest Service Supervisor for the Southwest District, Neil Bosworth, affixed his signature to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) study this week, a significant achievement in the process to acquire 250 acres of Forest Service property that remains the target site on which to build a university campus in Payson.

With the NEPA sign-off, the Forest Service can formally proceed with scheduling an appraisal of the property. The earlier Memorandum of Agreement approved the use of a Direct Sales process, in which the price for the property will be determined by the appraisal. A 45-day public comment period will be underway shortly.

One of two key steps in the complex process leading to Bosworth’s signature was an ethno-historic study, requested by the Hopi Native American Tribe. Ethno-history uses both historical and ethnographic data as its foundation. Source materials — such as paintings, folklore, oral traditions, site exploration, archaeological materials, enduring customs, language, and place names — are used to examine indigenous cultures and customs that may no longer exist. The cost of the requested study was born by the Forest Service.

Rim Country Educational Alliance (“Alliance”) is close to completing the other step. A performance bond, guaranteeing completion of the Archeological Mitigation Treatment Plan for archeologically significant sites found on the property, is expected to be finalized this week. The bond enables the Alliance to move forward with acquiring the land prior to completion of the Treatment Plan.  Crucial to obtaining the Forest Service sign off, the bond also ensures that the required treatment work will be concluded, regardless of its complexity.

“We are elated to be at this stage in the process,” commented Steve Drury, Chairman of the Alliance. “We’ve patiently worked through many, many obstacles to get this point. The local Forest Service officials have been outstanding partners throughout.”

Interim financing is being negotiated to purchase the land and fund the balance of the pre-development costs. “We hope to be in a position to close on the land before the end of the year,” Drury concluded.

Phase One of construction, including onsite engineering, layout, and site planning, is likely to begin sometime in October.  Offsite infrastructure construction, including water, streets, and power, is expected to start this fall. The needed infrastructure will be established this year. Phase Two, the onsite groundbreaking, can occur once the Alliance has obtained title to the property, shortly after the first of the year.

“It’s been remarkable to see what can be achieved when all parties come together and share the same vision.  The Forest Service, the Alliance, our local team of volunteers have all worked tirelessly to achieve this goal,” praised Payson Mayor Kenny Evans.  “Their determination has been unwavering in the face of many challenges. We will achieve this historic objective for the Rim Country and bring a university campus here, thanks to their commitment, effort, and dedication.”

About Rim Country Educational Alliance

Rim Country Educational Alliance (RCEA) is a Separate Legal Entity formed in 2011 by an intra-governmental agreement between the Towns of Payson and Star Valley, AZ for the specific purpose of engaging in activities that further the concept of higher or advanced education, and economic and workforce development in Arizona’s Rim Country.  A Separate Legal Entity (SLE) is a stand-alone political subdivision of the State of Arizona.  SLEs typically are formed for specific governmental functions and ordinarily include a county, city, town, or school district. 

Contact for more information about Rim Country Educational Alliance:
Mary Kastner
Vice Chairperson
Rim Country Educational Alliance
(928) 595-2088


Contact for more information about this press release:
Laura Ann Bartlett-Armstrong
Marketing and PR Committee Lead
Payson University Campus Volunteer Committee


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