National Geographic - Center for Sustainable Destinations: Working to protect the worlds distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship.

Gateway Community Toolkit

If your town is next to a national park or other protected natural recreational area, you live in a gateway community or region. Good stewardship of the region outside a park is just as important as inside it. This toolkit of resources can help maximize the economic, environmental, heritage, and aesthetic benefits of being a gateway, while minimizing the kind of problems that can result in a poor score on the Destination Stewardship Index published in National Geographic Traveler.

About Gateway Communities

Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Seward, Alaska. Bar Harbor, Maine. While these towns and cities have highly varied history, climate, culture and terrain they all have one important thing in common »>

Resources: Where to Find the Answers

How does our community develop a comprehensive, appropriate strategy that takes advantage of the nearby park?

The Conservation Fund's Gateway Community Program provides a range of practical tools and effective strategies to help communities protect their resources, preserve local character, and support economic growth. +1 703 525 6300.

Other Conservation Fund Resources

Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities—The definitive book on how a gateway community can preserve its character and protect its landscapes without sacrificing economic well-being.

Community of Choices—This 30-minute video teaches how historic and open space preservation, urban design, and landscaping shape a community's sense of place. Ideal for local officials, business groups, and civic organizations.

Technical Assistance—The Conservation Fund also provides in-depth consulting assistance for interested gateway communities.

Are there other organizations that offer broad guidance for gateways?

The Sonoran Institute, through its Partnerships Beyond Public Lands program, helps public land managers and local residents collaborate on community development, tourism management, preservation, and more.

How can we improve the historic facades and structures in our downtown area so as to attract business and more suitable tourists?

At the National Trust for Historic Preservation you can learn about the Main Street Program, training workshops, and other resources aimed at preserving and revitalizing communities across the United States.

How do we ensure that new businesses or developments in our town do not detract from our community's unique look and identity?

Scenic America offers resources for community planning and design.

The Conservation Fund's publication Better Models for Commercial Development describes how new businesses can be made more attractive and more compatible with local community identity.

How do we ban or restrict billboards and other ugly signs in our area?

Scenic America offers research and case studies dedicated to helping communities assess and protect their scenic resources:

How do we help to create park-related wildlife buffer zones and corridors that protect the ecosystem?

Read Landscapes, Wildlife, and People: A Community Workbook for Habitat Conservation, offered by the Sonoran Institute. Download information and an order form at

The Trust for Public Lands partners with communities to protect land from development and conserve natural resources through conservation easements.

American Wildlands "Corridors of Life" program focuses on protecting core wildlife habitats and securing safer roads for animals and humans.

How can we better inform visitors on the natural and cultural heritage of our region, and their role in helping to protect it?

For historic and cultural community-based tourism, get Share Your Heritage from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For a catalytic project that involves communities and builds awareness of your locality's natural, cultural, scenic, and historic assets, read about National Geographic's Geotourism MapGuide program (PDF).

How can we propose and support legislation that better protects our national parks?

National Parks Conservation Association

How can we develop rural tourism offerings that take advantage of the unique character of our park and region?

The federal assistance program called Rural Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community Program offers numerous resources, including training, conferences, publications, grants, and a list of sustainable community-development resources and other community-based programs.

Are there any existing case studies that analyze the relationship between a national park and its gateway community?

National Park Conservation Association has published Gateway to Glacier, a report on Flathead County, Montana, gateway to Glacier National Park. It includes studies on visitor/resident experience, and the relationship between park and gateway businesses and economies.

How can we tell whether our community is handling tourism in a sustainable fashion?

The World Tourism Organization offers a comprehensive guide on planning and practices for communities: Indicators for Sustainable Development for Tourism Destinations: A Guidebook

Other resources for communities »