2006 NPS Management Policies

More than 45,000 commenters responded to the proposed draft Management Policies during the 127-day review period that ended February 25, 2006. Those comments were read, processed, summarized and organized by National Park Service staff in the Office of Policy and the Environmental Quality Division. The results were then considered by a National Park Service review team* that met in Denver the week of April 10, 2006. Based on the comments received, the review team prepared extensive edits to the draft. The revised text was subsequently evaluated by a number of park managers and subject matter experts who suggested further refinements. The National Leadership Council suggested additional improvements.

A special committee representing the National Park System Advisory Board met with Deputy Director Steve Martin and key NPS staff May 23 and May 24, 2006, to discuss the revised draft. The committee then reported back to the full Board, which discussed and endorsed the committee's recommendations at its June 9, 2006, meeting. The Board's recommendations were then considered by the Director and other NPS senior managers and incorporated as appropriate.

An internal Servicewide review was completed July 10, 2006. At the close of the comment period a review committee met to consider the comments and make any further edits to improve the draft. A final revised draft was then reviewed by the National Leadership Council before being presented for the Director's consideration and approval. Director Mainella approved the final document August 31, 2006.

The final document is now available on-line at http://www.nps.gov/policy/MP2006.pdf. Hard copies have been printed and are available for purchase at $18.00 each through the US Government Printing Office's on-line bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/collections/nparkmgmt.jsp. A 20-page "User's Guide" to the new edition of Management Policies is on-line at http://www.nps.gov/policy/mp/Userguide.pdf.

As a general matter, the 2006 edition is very similar in content to the 2001 edition. However, the 2006 edition:

1. Is more public service oriented and positive, with increased emphasis on the NPS's commitment to provide for the enjoyment of this generation and future generations.

2. Further emphasizes that park managers must provide visitors from all walks of life the opportunity for meaningful educational and recreational experiences-experiences that inspire and lead to visitor enjoyment and a greater sense of resource stewardship.

3. Demonstrates that enjoyment of the parks supports the federal policy of promoting the health and personal fitness of the general public.

4. Decisively retains the NPS's ultimate responsibility for resource protection, making decisions, and exercising key authorities.

5. Provides a clearer definition of "appropriate use" of parks, which will enable park managers to determine how resources can best be conserved while providing a positive visitor experience.

6. Provides a solid definition of "unacceptable impact," which clarifies that protecting park resources requires NPS do more than simply avoid impairment.

7. Defines and sets a high standard for "professional judgment," which park managers must exercise when making decisions.

8. Provides stronger wording to protect park scenery from unsightly telecommunication antennas.

9. More fully addresses NPS legal authorities (under CERCLA, the Oil Pollution Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Park System Resource Protection Act) to protect and restore all park resources that have been damaged by others.

10. Includes a new section on civic engagement, and emphasize this as an important concept throughout the document. This reflects NPS's commitment to making sure that the various publics are included in the significant decisions that affect the parks.

11. Includes a new section on cooperative conservation, stressing the NPS's desire to work with others to better accomplish the NPS mission.

12. Includes new wording to promote cooperation with federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as individuals and organizations, to create seamless networks of parks and thus enhance biodiversity and a greater array of educational and recreational opportunities.

13. Includes a new section on NPS's relationship with American Indian tribes, stressing in particular the "government-to-government" nature of that relationship.

14. Includes a new section committing the NPS to maintain open, collaborative relationships with Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Caribbean Islanders.

15. Includes a new section on the Service's cooperation and coordination with the tourism industry to support and promote appropriate visitor use.

16. Include new sections on the NPS's diving operations and public health program.

17. Includes a major commitment to pursue the best contemporary business practices. Under the heading of management excellence, the policies address human resources, diversity, accessibility, management accountability, and financial sustainability.

18. Includes new text acknowledging that a natural soundscape is important, but may not be practicable in some parks (or locations). Also, text has been added to recognize that human-caused sounds are an appropriate part of visitor expectations and experiences in some parks.

19. Clarifies that national wild and scenic rivers managed by the NPS automatically become units of the national park system. Also clarifies that some, but not all, of the national trails managed by the NPS are units of the national park system. Any river or trail that is part of the national park system is subject to the Management Policies.

20. Recognizes additional management challenges and trends that occur on a national scale, such as Homeland Security, new recreation uses, and technological advances.

21. Incorporates new or relevant changes in laws and Executive orders, such as the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, and Executive orders such as "Federal Real Property Asset Management," "Preserve America" and "Facilitating Cooperative Conservation."

22. Updates and improves upon the Service's park planning processes.

23. Updates and clarifies many of the terms that were used in 2001, and add over 25 new terms to help the reader better understand critical concepts for managing units of the national park system.

The NPS welcomes opportunities to explain the new Management Policies and discuss their practical implications for managing the national park system. For further information contact the Office of Policy at 202-208-7456, or via e-mail at waso_policy@nps.gov.