Fort Raleigh NHS General Management Plan
Under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Raleigh, English settlers established two colonies on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, in 1585 and 1587, respectively. The colonists from the first settlement returned to England, while the men, women, and children from the second settlement simply disappeared, thus becoming known to history as the "lost colony."
Many generations accepted the northern shore of Roanoke Island as the location for the famous "Cittie of Ralegh." The site was thus the focus of various commemorative efforts over the years. In the 1890s, the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association (RCMA) was formed to preserve the area.
During the 1930s, the State of North Carolina administered the site as a state park and developed a highly conjectural reconstruction of log structures as a New Deal work project. During the same period, local enthusiasts formed the Roanoke Island Historical Association (RIHA), which took over the preservation and commemorative work of the RCMA. RIHA's main purpose, however, soon became the production of an outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, which was first held in 1937 at the state park's Waterside Theatre.
In 1941, at the urging of RIHA and the state, Fort Raleigh was designated as a national historic site and placed under NPS management, although World War II delayed much activity. During the 1950s, the Park Service embarked upon a major nationwide development program to meet the recreational needs of post-war America. This program led to the expansion of Fort Raleigh's boundaries and the construction of new facilities in the 1960s. Finally, a 1990 act of Congress led to the acquisition of additional park land to protect the rural character of northern Roanoke Island and lessen the financial stress on RIHA, which owned several tracts of that land. The same legislation also expanded the park's interpretive mission.
The development of a general management plan for Fort Raleigh will lay a foundation for the long term direction of the National Historic Site. A general management plan (GMP) provides a vision for the future of a park and a practical framework for decision making. It represents the broadest level of planning conducted by the National Park Service. The intention of a GMP is to provide guidance for making informed decisions about the future of the park and specify resource conditions and visitor experiences to be achieved. A GMP provides guidance on how to best protect park resources, how to provide for quality visitor experiences, and how to manage visitation and visitor use. It involves identifying goals based on the legislative intent of the park, analyzing existing conditions and future possibilities, and determining the best course of action to accomplish these goals.
A GMP does not include facility design, resolve all issues, or guarantee funding for the park. Rather, it describes the general path the National Park Service intends to follow in managing sites such as Fort Raleigh over a 15 to 20 year period. To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, an environmental impact statement (EIS) will be prepared concurrently with the GMP. The GMP and EIS will identify significant issues and concerns facing management of the park, present a reasonable range of management alternatives, and analyze the effects of the alternatives. Public involvement is a key component in the preparation of the GMP and EIS.
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