Planning for Our Parks
The National Park Service (NPS) plans for one purpose - to ensure that the decisions it makes will be carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible. The National Park Service prepares a variety of planning and environmental documents to help guide management of park resources. Planning provides methods and tools for resolving issues in ways that minimize conflicts and promotes mutually beneficial solutions - solutions that articulate how public enjoyment of the parks can be part of a strategy for ensuring that resources are protected unimpaired for future generations.
Gates of the Arctic Planning Portfolio
Park managers are guided by a variety of plans and studies, covering many topics. The totality of a park’s plans is referred to as the Portfolio of Management Plans (portfolio). The portfolio is a dynamic compilation of planning guidance in which certain planning elements are removed and updated, or new elements added as needed. For Alaska, the portfolio consists of basic descriptions of a park’s purpose, such as the Foundation Statement, Land Protection Plans, Wilderness Character Narrative, Park Atlas, and Wild and Scenic River Value Statements; comprehensive plans, such as a General Management Plan and Master Plan; implementation plans, such as a site management plan, transportation plan and fire management plan; and strategic program plans, such as a long-range interpretive plan. The above lists are examples of the types of planning elements that could be found in a portfolio. Each park’s portfolio of management plans will be composed of a unique set of plans designed specifically to help manage that particular unit.
Explore the Gates of the Arctic Portfolio of Management Plans
NEPA is the acronym for the National Environmental Policy Act. This act, passed in 1969, laid the foundation for environmental protection in the United States by setting policy goals for the federal government. Two major requirements of the act are that agencies analyze the environmental impacts of federal actions and engage the public in the decision-making process.
The first step in the park planning process involves defining the proposed action. For most projects, the next step in the planning process is to determine the appropriate pathway for NEPA documentation based on the proposed action’s level of impact to the environment. If the proposed action will not have significant impacts to the environment, the park utilizes a categorical exclusion. If it is unclear whether or not the proposed action will have significant environmental impacts, the park prepares an environmental assessment (EA). If the proposed action will have significant environmental impacts, the park prepares an environmental impact statement (EIS).
Explore Gates of the Arctic's NEPA documents
Before the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) created Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (GAAR), the likelihood of rich mineral deposits in the Ambler Mining District, to the west of the park, had already been identified. Congress, in considering the establishment of GAAR, recognized that a transportation corridor to the Ambler Mining District might become desirable, and might connect with the Dalton Highway to the east of the Park. The upper Kobuk River area was included in Gates of the Arctic National Park as a Preserve. However, Congress made allowances for a transportation corridor across the new preserve in order to provide access for future development of mineral resources in the Ambler area.
Documents Open for Public Review
Other Plans and Projects
An archive of completed projects as well as projects without documents open for comment may be found on the PEPC website.
Even if the formal public review period for a planning document is closed, you can still offer your thoughts to us. We welcome your voice at any stage of the planning process.