Plaques may be used outdoors in parks when deemed appropriate, tasteful and unobtrusive in the parks natural or cultural setting. The duration of the recognition may vary depending on the project, donation and location.
Finding an appropriate location is key. High foot traffic areas are best but these features should not be proposed in park areas if they would compete for attention with, or distract attention away from the natural or cultural setting of the park and the theme for which the park was created to protect and interpret. Visitor safety is also a design consideration. They should be sited to not impede foot traffic and offer safe footing while visitors are view the displays.
Temporary plaques may not be affixed to the "historic fabric" of structures and should not be placed in natural zones or cultural zones where they would intrude on the character of the area. Edge locations at entrance or egress points are usually more appropriate and less intrusive.
Director's Order #21 Chapter 10.2.6 states, “naming of rooms, features, or park facilities will not be used to recognize monetary or in-kind donations to a park or the NPS. Plaques acknowledging the contribution of a donor to the restoration or rehabilitation of a room or facility may be allowed but must be pre-approved. Such a plaque may state, for example: ‘The renovation of this room (or facility) was made possible through the generous donation of ______.’”
At Yosemite NP, a subtle 10"x12" bronze dedication plaque (below) was placed at the primary shuttle bus shelter at the entry to Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley to recognize major gift donors who gave to the Yosemite Fund for the $12.5 million restoration of Lower Yosemite Falls. The outdoor plaque recognizes donors with the following inscription: “In 2003 and 2004 Lower Yosemite Falls was restored and redesigned utilizing gifts to the Yosemite Fund from over 14,000 contributors including major support from the following:...Additional support was provided by the National Park Service through the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program.” The plaque includes the arrowhead, Yosemite Fund logo and a relief of the Lower Yosemite Falls.
In another example, the promenade donor display below recognizes the contribution of a major donor and family members who generously donated the lead gift that contributed $34.5 million to restore Crissy Field and create an environmental education center at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Another larger, low-profile outdoor donor plaque for major donors below recognizes donors who contributed $100,000 or more to that project at Golden Gate NRA.
Rocky Mountain Nature Association recognizes donors with a "permanent" plaque at park headquarters and project completion plaques within several visitor centers and in a museum. They also use temporary notification plaques to explain the nature of the philanthropic project and to recognize major donors. Donor recognition has been allowed on interpretive exhibits.