An interdisciplinary planning team was assembled in January 2006 to develop this general management plan. The team was comprised of the North Cascades NP Complex superintendent, staff and specialists, and planners from the NPS Pacific West Regional Office in Seattle. The planning team met frequently between 2006 and 2011 to gather background information, develop the Foundation Statement for the North Cascades NP Complex, examine resources, identify issues, and develop and refine alternative management concepts and actions. The Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS) was released in July 2010, and the Final GMP/EIS was released over a year later, in December 2011. The Record of Decision for the Ross Lake National Recreation Area Final General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement was signed on March 21, 2012 and was published in the Federal Register on May 22, 2012 (vol. 77, n. 99, p. 30320).

Throughout the planning process, public participation played a large part in helping to focus the plan, identify issues, and formulate alternatives. Overall, the planning process incorporated four formal rounds of public involvement: public scoping, public review of the draft alternatives, public review of the preliminary findings of the Skagit Wild and Scenic River Study, and public review of the Draft GMP/EIS. The Final GMP/EIS was also available for public comment for 30 days after the release of the plan.

* indicates the current step in the planning process
Step 1. Identify the Planning Context
Step 2. Develop and Evaluate Preliminary Alternatives
Step 3. Prepare and Publish a Draft General Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment GMP/ EIS or EA
Step 4. Revise and Publish the Final GMP/EIS or EA
Step 5. Implement the Approved Plan
Step 6. Release final plan/decision document to the public *

In July 2012, North Cascades National Park Complex released a shortened version of the Final GMP/EIS which includes only those elements of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area General Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement that pertain to the proposed actions and guidance within the plan. This final document is the document that the National Park Service will refer to over the next 15 to 20 years as we make important decisions about the future of Ross Lake National Recreation Area. The publication and release of this document concludes the planning phase of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area General Management Plan.