Wind Cave National Park's planing documents or current plans or projects can be found at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/wica
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is landmark environmental protection legislation establishing as a goal for federal decision-making a balance between use and preservation of natural and cultural resources. NEPA requires all federal agencies to: (1) prepare in-depth studies of the impacts of and alternatives to proposed major federal actions; (2) use the information contained in such studies in deciding whether to proceeds with the actions; and (3) diligently attempt to involve the interested and affected public before any decision affecting the environment is made.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a planning tool that is used to explore alternatives and determine whether those alternatives will have significant impacts. EAs are made available to the public for review and comment. If the EA reveals that the proposed action will have a significant impact, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared (see next section). If the EA reveals that there will not be significant impacts, a decision document is prepared and signed (see below).
Environmental Impact Statements
NEPA requires the preparation of an EIS whenever park management proposes an action whose impacts on the natural and/or human environment may be significant. An EIS will include a range of alternatives that will be evaluated for potential impacts. EISs are made available for public review and comment. Park managers may proceed with a decision document (see below) following the public review process.
If an EA reveals that there will be no significant impacts, a preferred alternative is selected, and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will be prepared. A FONSI is an explanation of why the selected action will have no significant effects on the natural or human environment. It is based on the EA and the comments of agencies and the public. The FONSI is signed by the Regional Director of the National Park Service.
At the conclusion of an EIS, a Record of Decision (ROD) must be signed. The ROD describes the ultimate choice of an alternative, mitigation measures to reduce impacts, and the decision rationale. The ROD is signed by the Regional Director of the National Park Service.
Development Concept Plans
A DCP is used for larger development proposals within the park (i.e., a new visitor center), or where planning for the future of the park encompasses a large area. A DCP explores alternatives and lays out a conceptual framework for park managers to follow in the future. DCPs frequently include an EA so that the impacts of the alternative concepts can be evaluated. DCPs are made available for public review and comment.
Management Plans provide guidance to park managers on various topics. For example, Wind Cave National Park currently has in place the following Management Plans and Studies:
Wind Cave National Park Visitor Services Project The Visitor Services Project (VSP) is an ongoing research project of the National Park Service (NPS) Social Science Program that provides superintendents with usable knowledge about visitors. The VSP uses customized questionnaires during a 7- to 10-day period (occasionally longer) that is chosen by park managers. Wind Cave National Park had such a study completed in 2010.
Economic Impact Analysis As part of the VSP project, the park also had an Economic Impact Analysis done. The report uses the Money Generation Model 2 (MGM2), developed specifically for the National Park Service by Dr Daniel Stynes at Michigan State University, to estimate the economic impacts of park visitor spending. MGM2 uses VSP visitor studies along with a county-level, imput-output economic model (IMPLAN) to model how money spent by visitors flows through the economy supporting local jobs and businesses. Click on the above link to view Wind Cave National Park's impact on visitor spending on the local economy.
An ethnographic study of the park was completed in 2003 by Patricia C. Albers. To read the study click on this link. The Home of the Bison: An Ethnographic and Ethnohistorical Study of Traditional Cultural Affiliations to Wind Cave National Park.