Supplemental Information Back to EQD
Examples of Purpose and Need Statements

Example 1: From a GMP where there is a “Proposed Action and Alternatives” (color and italics added to highlight purpose, need statements)

Purpose of and Need for Action


This Draft General Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement presents four alternatives, including the proposed action, for the future management of Voyageurs National Park. The alternatives, which are based on statements of the park's mission, purpose, and significance, present different ways (1) to achieve desired future conditions or mission goals for the park, and (2) to resolve problems, issues, and concerns. The document describes existing conditions as a baseline for analyzing the environmental consequences associated with implementing each alternative.


The park's current Master Plan, which was approved in 1980, is no longer adequate to address the policy and operational issues now facing Voyageurs National Park. While the Master Plan guided the National Park Service's initial efforts in managing the park, conditions have changed over the last 20 years, and that plan does not provide sufficient direction for protecting natural and cultural resources or for managing visitor use.
The purpose of a new general management plan will be to

  • identify an overall direction for park management over the next 20 years by clearly describing specific resource conditions and visitor experiences to be achieved in various management areas throughout the park
  • provide a framework for park managers to use when making decisions about such issues as how to best protect park resources, how to provide a quality visitor experience, how to manage visitor use, and what kinds of facilities, if any, to develop in the park
  • ensure that this basic foundation for decision making has been developed in consultation with interested stakeholders and adopted by park managers and the National Park Service leadership after an adequate analysis of the benefits, environmental impacts, and economic costs of alternative courses of action

The Voyageurs general management plan is unique because it includes a visitor use and facilities plan. In 1983 Congress passed legislation directing the park to complete such a plan:

The Secretary shall, in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local governmental entities and private entities experienced in the fields of outdoor recreation and visitor services, develop and implement a comprehensive plan for visitor use and overnight visitor facilities for the park. The plan shall set forth methods of achieving an appropriate level and type of visitation in order that the resources of the park and its environs may be interpreted for, and used and enjoyed by, the public in a manner consistent with the
purposes for which the park was established. Such plan may include appropriate informational and educational messages and materials.
The visitor use and facilities plan was never funded. Later, the mediation process recommended that the plan requirements could be accomplished through the NPS general management planning process. Therefore, the visitor use and facilities plan is now being developed in conjunction with the general management plan.


In August 1998 the National Park Service published a notice of intent to prepare a general management plan and environmental impact statement for Voyageurs National Park in the Federal Register and conducted four public scoping meetings around Minnesota to identify issues and concerns that the plan needed to address. A general management plan is needed to

  • determine how best to ensure that the park's purpose and significance are maintained and that its mission goals are achieved
  • resolve issues focusing on visitor use and interpretation, specific areas for data collection, resource impacts, and necessary partnerships with entities outside the park to ensure appropriate management. (A detailed list of issues and concerns that were raised during scoping are presented beginning on page I-13.)


The new general management plan for Voyageurs National Park will be based on its mission, purpose, and significance. These elements are derived from the park's enabling legislation and a critical look at why it was originally designated as a national park. Desired future conditions or mission goals were then developed as a means to define what kind of place Voyageurs should become in 20 years. The alternatives presented in this document present various ways of achieving these mission goals.


The mission, purpose, and significance statements provide the context and basis for understanding and evaluating the draft alternatives. They were first stated in the park's 1997 Strategic Plan, which was publicly reviewed as it was being developed.

Mission Statement

Voyageurs National Park preserves the landscapes and scenic waterways that shaped the route of the North American fur traders and defined the border between the United States and Canada. The park and its diverse resources provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation, scientific study, sportfishing, education, and appreciation of the northwoods lake country setting.

Purpose Statements

The purposes of Voyageurs National Park, according to its legislation, are as follow:

  • Preserve the scenery, geologic conditions, and interconnected waterways in northern Minnesota for the inspiration and enjoyment of people now and in the future.
  • Commemorate the voyageurs' routes and fur trade with the Native peoples of the north, which contributed significantly to the opening of northwestern North America to European settlement.
  • Preserve, in an unimpaired condition, the ecological processes, biological and cultural diversity, and history of the northwoods lake country border we share with Canada.
  • Provide opportunities for people to experience, understand, and treasure the lake country landscape - its clean air and water, forests, islands, wetlands, and wildlife – in a manner that is compatible with the preservation of park values and resources.
  • Etc.

Example 2: From a project where there was no identified “Proposed Action” up front, but rather, a series of alternatives that met purpose and need and met the project's objectives. In this case, a range of 7 alternatives were “proposed” with one being the “preferred alternative.”


Bison are an essential component of Yellowstone National Park because they contribute to the biological, ecological, cultural, and aesthetic purposes of the park. However, the park is not a self-contained ecosystem for bison, and periodic migrations into Montana are natural events. Some bison have brucellosis and may transmit it to cattle outside of the park. As bison migrant out of the park and into Montana, they move from one jurisdiction with management objectives to a different jurisdiction with different management objectives. Therefore, the cooperation of several agencies is required to fully manage the herd and the risk of transmission of brucellosis from bison to Montana domestic cattle.


The purpose of the proposed interagency action is to maintain a wild, free-ranging population of bison and address the risk of brucellosis transmission to protect the economic interest and viability of the livestock industry in the state of Montana.

Note — there were 9 objectives developed by the agencies. Each of the alternatives analyzed in the plan were determined to be “reasonable” if they met the objectives to a large degree and resolved purpose and need for action. A “preferred alternative” was not identified until after the analysis was completed of each of the 7 alternatives.

Example 3, Development and Construction, where there is a specific “proposed action.”

Need for Action

The park's 1994 General Management Plan and Record of Decision set forth a direction to restore all impacted forested areas in the northwest corner of the park. These areas are currently impacted by two campgrounds and associated facilities that are no longer adequate to serve visitor needs. The GMP calls for removal of these two campgrounds, and rehabilitation of forest cover and habitat present in the area prior to development. In addition, the GMP directs the park to establish partnerships with the local community to provide overnight facilities to accommodate visitors who wish to camp in the vicinity.

Purpose of Action

The purpose of taking action at this time is to provide a site specific rehabilitation and reclamation plan for the removal of two campgrounds as directed by the 1994 GMP.

Objectives of Action

Meet desired future conditions established in the 1994 GMP for habitat restoration of sensitive areas in the northwest corner of the park. Accommodate to the fullest extent possible, those visitors who wish to camp overnight in the vicinity of the park, without compromising park resources and values. Support the efforts of the local community to provide a quality visitor experience for those who wish to camp overnight in the vicinity of the park.

Proposed Action

Removal of two campgrounds and restoration of forest cover and habitat consistent with the 1994 GMP.
Range of Alternatives: Rehab methods, mitigation options for both sites, and ways to accommodate visitors in accordance with the GMP.

Example 4, A Fatal Flaw.

Need for Action

The park proposes to eliminate mountain goats from alpine areas to restore vegetation. This action is needed because mountain goats are known to destroy vegetation, therefore, all mountain goats are to be destroyed.

Purpose of Action

The purpose of this action is to destroy mountain goats.

Objectives of Action

Destroy mountain goats.

Proposed Action

Shooting mountain goats from helicopters.


Shooting mountain goats on foot, or horseback.

Example 5, Another Fatal Flaw.

Need for Action

The park proposes to build a visitor center at the northwest entrance to provide interpretation and visitor services.

Purpose of Action

Build a visitor center, with many windows and lots of space.

Objectives of Action

To obligate funds for the visitor center and get construction started ASAP.

Proposed Action

Build a visitor center.


Not build a visitor center.

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