What Types of Plans are There?

Planning Document Covers Graphic

The National Park Service prepares a variety of planning and environmental documents to help guide it in managing park resources. These documents can range from site-specific impact analyses on facility locations to broader park-wide plans for future use and management of the park. In the General Management Planning Dynamic Sourcebook (Version 2.1, March 2008), the National Park Service provides an overview of the NPS planning framework including the following:

The foundation statement is the basis for planning and management, and it concentrates on why a park was established. It describes a park’s purpose and significance, focusing future management and planning on what is most important about a park’s resources and values.

A general management plan (GMP) focuses primarily on what resource conditions and visitor experiences should exist – a shared understanding about the kinds of resource conditions and visitor experiences that will best fulfill the purpose of the park. A GMP defines broad direction for resources preservation and visitor use in a park. Thus, general management planning is the broadest level of decision making for parks.

Program management plans follow the GMP, and they identify and recommend the best strategies for achieving the GMP’s desired conditions for resources and visitor experiences for each program area. Program management plans serve as the bridge between the qualitative desired condition statements in the GMP and the measurable goals and implementing actions identified in the park’s strategic plans and implementation plans. Examples of Denali’s program management plans include the Denali Resource Stewardship Strategy and the Denali Education Plan.

A park’s strategic plan tiers off the GMP and subsequent program management plans. It documents decisions about which desired conditions in the GMP and which respective strategies in the program management plan should be the highest park priorities over the next three to five years.

Implementation plans take the prioritized desired conditions and strategies from a park’s strategic plan and describe in detail the actions that will be taken over the next several years to help achieve those conditions. Examples of Denali’s implementation plans include the Headquarters Area Plan and the South Denali Implementation Plan.

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