Santa Fe Trail Scenic & Historic Byway
Interpretive Master Plan

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The Planning Process

Guiding Interpretive Services
The Process

 

Guiding Interpretive Services

Interpretive planning provides a framework and process to guide the design, development and operation of interpretive services. It places the goals of the project within the mission of the Byway Committee, incorporates operational procedures with interpretive opportunities and visitors to develop site-derived objectives. Planning connects goals, management and resource requirements, with interpretation.

By taking into account budgetary and site constraints, an interpretive plan can pare the list of potential interpretive sites to those most feasible for development. By recording existing and planned interpretive services, the interpretive plan will eliminate the potential for over­lapping services with partners.

Interpretive planning will identify sites that offer excellent opportunities for interpretation. By taking the entire project into consideration, the plan strives to spread use among various sites, avoiding problems of overuse and damage to natural or cultural resources. Existing facilities, such as parking lots and overlooks can be used, if appropriate, without impacting these resources. By assessing audience, fiscal resources and interpretive stories, the plan can recommend alternatives called interpretive media.

An interpretive plan also serves as an ongoing instrument to evaluate the scope, relevance and proper context for future services. The planning document should foster creativity, set priorities, and give focus to present and future interpretive initiatives. The phasing and implementation schedule can be used as a guide for grant writers in determining which interpretive media have priority. The cost estimates are also useful in determining what amount the grant should be written for or what fund-raising efforts or budget priorities should be made.

The plan should be considered a fluid document. It is a snapshot in time and takes into consideration the current situation. Should the situation change, new interpretive opportunities arise or the audience change, the plan should be revisited to reflect the new situation. It is recommended that the plan be revisited annually and altered to accommodate changing circumstances.

The Process

This interpretive plan follows the goal-driven planning process that was developed by the National Park Service interpretive planning team from the Denver Service Center. It was developed by first determining an inventory of significant resources. This inventory is a series of statements about the Byway and adjacent lands that describe how it is different from any other byway, park, forest, or interpretive site. These statements are related to natural history, cultural history and recreational resources. They are those special traits that will make visitors want to visit.

From this list, statements of significance were developed. Statements of significance consolidate the inventory statements into categories. From these categories themes were developed. Themes are statements that affirm certain overall characteristics about the area being interpreted and are the general ideas about the place that are so important that we want visitors to remember these messages, if nothing else.

It is the purpose of this plan to recommend sites and media and not to determine how much of the funding share should be sustained by each partner. It is understood that grants, donations and other funds, only a few of which have been identified at this point, will make up the bulk of the funding base.

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