A Reflection: My First Month of Park Planning

I can’t believe my first month of interning with the Pacific West Region office has come to an end so quickly! In my first month of working as a Park Planning and Environmental Compliance Fellow, I visited my site at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, read various background materials on National Park Service policies, and had the chance to connect with several professionals across the NPS.

When I first began working with park planning, I had no idea what it would actually entail. I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of acronyms, specific procedures, and opportunities for advancement. However, I have been fortunate enough to be under the mentorship of my supervisors, Anna Tamura and Bradley Phillips.

During my first month, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of the processes of park planning. Park planning is a multi-disciplinary process that involves collaboration between parks, regional offices, local community members, tribal relatives, as well as other stakeholders. Park planners work closely with these partners to produce detailed documents such as park planning portfolios and general management plans which provide information on approaches to address a park’s planning needs.

My favorite aspect of park planning is the fact that park planners get to contribute to the establishment of new units within the NPS. Park planners assess potential new units and determine if they reach four sets of criteria: the unit possesses nationally significant resources, is a suitable addition to the NPS, is a feasible addition, and determine whether the unit requires direct NPS management or management outside the NPS.

I think this is really cool – considering how many national parks, national monuments, and many more national sites are in my region alone. The Pacific West Region covers all of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Hawai’i, Guam, Saipan, and the American Samoa. It is such a privilege to oversee these sites, and I feel lucky to be a part of the Park Planning and Environmental Compliance team this summer.

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