Make Sure Your Ideas Get Heard During Park Planning

From the protection of endangered species to increased parking, everything that the National Park Service does in a national park is the result of park planning.

You can take part in that planning and make an impact on the future of our nation's parks.

Make a difference for America’s great treasures—protect park wildlife, landscapes, historic buildings, and museum collections.

The National Park Service (NPS) is required by law and its own policies to listen to the public when planning for the future of a park. Unfortunately, NPS is under pressure from special interest groups seeking economic gain from parks or unrestricted access to all public lands. Your voice can make a difference. NPCA members and friends need to make sure that NPS receives public support for plans that ensure the long-term preservation of the natural environments and the historic landscapes that parks were created to protect.

Speak up at a public meeting

The National Park Service usually provides opportunities for people to speak directly with park planners and managers whenever a plan is under way. If you live close enough to attend, these hearings offer good opportunities to share ideas and information about parks. 

Write a letter to the park superintendent stating your interest in the park and your opinions

Park managers need to hear from more people than just those who live nearby. Perhaps you and your family have enjoyed visiting a variety of national parks over the years. Perhaps you are a frequent visitor with close personal ties to a particular park. Perhaps you want to ensure that a broad cross-section of America’s natural and cultural heritage will be protected for future generations. Whatever your opinions about a park policy, sharing them with park administrators can make managers more aware of the great diversity of interests surrounding national parks.

Become as informed as possible

When preparing to comment on a particular plan, try to get a copy of the entire plan or look for it on the internet at The plan should provide background information about actions under consideration, other alternatives, and expected consequences. The more specific you can be about why you agree or disagree with a particular proposal, what alternative you might support, or whether you think the consequences have been well thought out, the more likely it is that park managers will hear you.

Offer constructive criticism and mention the things you support

Offering thoughtful suggestions and alternatives that will strengthen park plans will generally be more effective than simply criticizing the National Park Service for making bad decisions. Expressing support for ideas with which you agree is also effective as well as important. Even if you think a plan is good, others may be lobbying the National Park Service to change the plan. Without support, good plans are at risk of being revised to the detriment of natural and cultural environments.

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