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.
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT
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.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE DIRECTOR'S ORDER 12
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.