How is the Planning Process Conducted?

There are four basic steps in the general management planning process: "scoping" or information gathering; alternative development and analysis; preparation and publication of a draft GMP and EIS; and revision and publication of a final GMP and EIS.

General management planning is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of park managers and technical experts who consult with other knowledgeable persons inside and outside the National Park Service and with the general public. As a first order of business, the planning team studies the legislation establishing the park, the body of laws and policies directing management of the national park system, park-specific administrative commitments, and special mandates that affect how the park is managed. These legal and administrative commitments are referred to as musts in GMPs. Once these musts are clearly understood, the planning team examines the park's mission, purpose, and significance statements to ensure that they adequately represent legislative intent, provide a sound foundation for decisionmaking at the park, and reflect the overall values of the general public. In addition, the planning team identifies the range of optional goals and objectives that park staff, technical experts, current and potential visitors, other governmental agencies, traditional users, regional residents, and the general public want the park to achieve. The broad range of optional goals and objectives are collectively referred to as wants in general management planning.

Not surprisingly, some of the things that people want to happen at the park will be mutually compatible and others will not. The most appropriate mix of these "wants" will be determined using the best information available after a systematic analysis of resource values and land uses.

Management alternatives will then be developed and potential environmental impacts related to those alternatives will be rigorously explored.

Developing a general management plan involves several key steps occurring over a number of years. Steps 1 and 2 involve identifying the scope and issues of the planning effort, setting goals, identifying obstacles to realizing those goals, and collecting data. In steps 3 and 4, alternatives to achieving these goals are developed. The relative benefits and impacts(including costs) of each approach are analyzed in an environmental impact statement that is prepared as part of the general management plan. These alternatives and analyses are presented to public for review. In the final steps, after all parties have had an opportunity to comment on the alternatives and the analysis of associated impacts, one alternative is selected and approved
for implementation.