"We've asked ourselves that question," said Gary Johnson, Chief of Resource Planning for the Parkway.Johnson
explains that every national park has been created with a Congressional Act, which states the purpose for that park.
legislation talks about scenery and our responsibility to manage that scenery," Johnson
said."We've been trying to define broadly what that means."
According to surveys Parkway
staff have made of their visitors, 90% responded that they come for the views."The views they're talking about are not Parkway
80% of the property adjacent to the Parkway
is privately owned, Johnson
said.Where there is no zoning, there is no official means for the federal agency to respond to what a private property owner may do.They have therefore tried, through viewshed mapping and input of local citizens, to identify the most important views.
"Viewshed" is the term the Parkway
uses to refer to all of the scenery visible from the Parkway
and within one mile of the Parkway
commissioned a map of the viewshed seven years ago, and the map has been completed for a year.The purpose, said Johnson
, is to give the Parkway
a way to better comment and respond to viewshed issues.
When an "important" view is identified, the Parkway
addresses the landowners through conservation land trusts.These groups approach landowners about adopting voluntary easements on their property.Conservation easements mean that the land trusts purchase development rights to the property but not the property itself."It's a way to restrict what a landowner can do with the property, but there's just compensation," Johnson
's Strategic Plan states that "It is neither practical nor possible for the National Park Service
to control all lands visible from the Parkway
.Responsibility for protection of cultural landscapes and scenic resources beyond federal ownership must rest with neighboring communities and counties."The Parkway
does not have a "legislated" boundary, according to Johnson
.Typically, said Johnson, it is cities and counties which bring the Parkway into discussion on zoning and rezoning specific properties.
"We're a neighbor that responds with comments" to these situations, said Johnson
, "Property owners usually find out about viewshed issues when the Parkway
approaches them or if they find themselves in a county with rezoning issues.
is currently working on a General Management Plan, Johnson
said, and hopes to present it to the public early next calendar year.