How Planning Works


National Park Service (NPS) planners prepare a variety of planning and environmental documents to help guide the management of 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.

NPS is required by the NPS Organic Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to plan and make informed decisions that help preserve park resources and values. NPS carries out this responsibility by preparing studies to assess the environmental impact of major projects that will affect the environment. Public participation in the NEPA process is critical.


Passed by Congress in 1969, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) established a national policy of encouraging productive and enjoyable harmony between human beings and the environment for present and future generations. To further this policy, NEPA requires federal agencies like NPS to evaluate the environmental impacts of its actions and to involve the public in the decision-making process. Within NPS, the NEPA process is an essential tool for ensuring informed decisions that conserve park resources and values.


Director's Order 12 (DO-12) and its accompanying handbook set forth the policies and procedures by which NPS meets its NEPA requirements. DO-12 describes the NEPA-related roles and responsibilities of NPS staff and highlights the key instructions, requirements, and policies related to NEPA planning and compliance. The Handbook, along with supplemental guidance that will be issued on an as-needed basis to address specific NEPA-related topics, serves as the "how-to manual" for NPS NEPA planning and compliance.

Last updated: January 25, 2018

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area
201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123


United States Park Police Dispatch: Non-Emergency: 415-561-5505 Emergency: 415-561-5656

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