The National Park Service carries out its responsibilities in parks and programs under the authority of Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, and in accord with policies established by the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior.
Policies are designed to improve the internal management of the National Park Service. They are not enforceable legal tools. An example of NPS policy is section 18.104.22.168 of Management Policies (2006), dealing with the content and design of park brochures. If you have questions about NPS policies, please contact the Office of Policy.
Regulations are mechanisms for implementing laws and for enforcing established policies. Regulations have the force and effect of law, and violations of the same are punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both. Examples of NPS regulations include those on pets (36 CFR 2.15), metal detectors (36 CFR 2.1(a)(7)), and alcoholic beverages (36 CFR 2.35) in the parks.
NPS regulations published in title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations are basically detailed statements of how policies will be applied to the public. Once published in this form, they apply to everyone, and their violation may invoke a fine and/or imprisonment. The National Park Service also publishes regulations to tell the public how we will administer various programs, such as concession activities, the National Register of Historic Places, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Laws are enacted by Congress with (and in some circumstances without) the approval of the President. The Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs serves to facilitate the appearance of NPS witnesses at congressional hearings, articulate NPS positions on legislation proposed by Congress, and coordinate NPS responses to congressional committee oversight requests and other inquiries from the Hill. If you have a question regarding any of these functions, please contact the Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs. Learn more about laws that affect national parks and the National Park Service.
- Policy Development
- Park Designations
- Criteria for Parkland
- NPS Advisory Committees
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- Thomas, the Library of Congress legislative information system
- U.S. Senate
- U.S. House of Representatives
Office of Jurisdiction and Regulations
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Last updated: May 22, 2019