Park Vital Signs Monitoring An Effective Program Will: Enable managers to make better informed management decisions; Provide early warning of abnormal conditions in time to develop effective mitigation measures; Provide data to convince other agencies and individuals to make decisions benefiting parks; Satisfy certain legal mandates; Provide a means of tracking resource condition and measuring performance.
The Secretary shall undertake a program of inventory and monitoring of National Park System resources to establish baseline information and to provide information on the long- term trends in the condition of National Park System resources. The monitoring program shall be developed in cooperation with other Federal monitoring and information collection efforts to ensure a cost-effective approach. NATIONAL PARKS OMNIBUS MANAGEMENT ACT OF 1998 The Secretary shall … assure the full and proper utilization of the results of scientific studies for park management decisions. The Law:
2001 NPS Management Policies Natural systems in the national park system, and the human influences upon them, will be monitored to detect change. The Service will use the results of monitoring and research to understand the detected change and to develop appropriate management actions. The Service will: Identify, acquire, and interpret needed inventory, monitoring, and research, including applicable traditional knowledge, to obtain information and data that will help park managers accomplish park management objectives provided for in law and planning documents.
This involves a serious commitment from the leadership of the National Park Service to insist that the superintendents carry out a systematic, consistent, professional inventory and monitoring program, along with other scientific activities, that is regularly updated to ensure that the Service makes sound resource decisions based on sound scientific data. (FY2000 Appropriations Language) Message from Congress:
Source: Rethinking the National Parks for the 21st Century. A Report of the National Park System Advisory Board, July 2001 A sophisticated knowledge of resources and their condition is essential. The Service must gain this knowledge through extensive collaboration with other agencies and academia, and its findings must be communicated to the public. For it is the broader public that will decide the fate of these resources. NPS Advisory Board Report:
Natural resource bibliography Base cartographic data Geology map Soils map Weather data Air quality Location of air quality monitoring stations Water body location and classification Water quality data Vegetation map Species list of vertebrates and vascular plants Species distribution and status of vertebrates and vascular plants of high priority to each park 12 Basic Inventory Datasets Integrate data sets and make them more available to managers using GIS Theme Manager.
Status of Natural Resource Inventories Natural Resource Bibliography –Data compiled for 284 parks –145,000 records in database GIS Base Cartography data –Products for 248 parks complete or funded Soils Maps –37 parks completed; 117 more underway Water Quality data –Baseline assessment reports completed for 225 parks; data in hand for most other parks
Status of Natural Resource Inventories Vegetation Maps Funding increased from $1.1M to $4.1M in FY2001, allowing 29 new project starts ($1.10M USGS, $1.20M FirePro, $1.75M NPS NRC) 14 ongoing projects (total no. = 43) 22 projects completed or nearly completed 2 Alaska parks completed; 5 draft maps; 2 more in progress Documented Species Occurrence Documented species lists for higher plants and animals available for 258 parks NPSpecies database contains 258,405 park-species combinations 130,293 voucher records; 134,749 observation records; 3,918 records in NPSpecies linked to bibliography
Vital Signs Monitoring Networks
Sequence of Funding Network for Monitoring 5 Year 1 networks –North Coast and Cascades –Northeast Coastal and Barrier –Heartland –Sonoran Desert –Cumberland/Piedmont 7 Year 2 networks –Central Alaska –National Capital –Northern Colorado Plateau –Mediterranean Coast –Greater Yellowstone –Appalachian Highlands –San Francisco Bay 5 Year 3 networks (52 parks) –Southwest Alaska –Northeast Temperate –Southern Colorado Plateau –Pacific Islands –Great Lakes After That: –Gulf Coast –Rocky Mountain –13 more... (55 parks) (46 parks)
Key Features of New Park/Network Monitoring Program Integrated monitoring program: physical and biological resources including weather, air, water, geoindicators, T&E species, exotic plants, other flora & faunaIntegrated monitoring program: physical and biological resources including weather, air, water, geoindicators, T&E species, exotic plants, other flora & fauna Integrate NR information with park operations including interpretation, maintenance, law enforcementIntegrate NR information with park operations including interpretation, maintenance, law enforcement Emphasis on making information more useable; tools such as Synthesis, GIS Theme Manager, NR Database template, interconnected web and distributed databasesEmphasis on making information more useable; tools such as Synthesis, GIS Theme Manager, NR Database template, interconnected web and distributed databases (moving away from the stovepipe model)
Monitoring is a central aspect of park management, performance management, and meeting the NPS mission. Funding from the Servicewide I&M Program will only build a core program. Use of existing personnel, base funds, and partnerships are critical to success. Monitoring is done primarily to meet the information needs of each park. This necessitates a flexible program with local control to address the most critical information needs of each park and allow parks to build local partnerships. Clearly defining the goals and measurable objectives for monitoring at the outset is critical for success. Who is interested in the information and WHY? Data Management and reporting are a major, critical component of the overall program. Key Aspects of the NPS Approach to Vital Signs Monitoring
Status on Vital Signs Monitoring In FY 2002, 12 networks that include 101 of the 270 parks with significant natural resources will receive funding to plan and design an integrated park vital signs program. Another 5 networks (52 parks) will receive initial planning funds. All 11 prototype monitoring programs (including 22 parks) funded in FY2002. Servicewide Vision and Implementation Plan in place for parks to develop integrated monitoring programs that address the most critical information needs of each park. Guidance from NRPC divisions being developed and technical assistance available to assist parks with planning and design. (http://www.nature.nps.gov/im/monitor)
Park Vital Signs Monitoring Focus on most significant indicators of long-term ecological trends and highest concerns among the parks in each network Funding from Servicewide Program will NOT allow comprehensive monitoring
Initial Steps in Designing a Monitoring Program Clear statements of Monitoring Goals and specific Objectives Compile/summarize available data and understanding of park ecosystem Develop conceptual models Select indicators for monitoring and determine the appropriate sampling design and protocols Do it Right the First Time approach
Indicator Selection Select Indicators List Potential Indicators Establish Priorities Predict Stress/Response Relationships Predict Linkages among Components and Processes STRESSORS: Identify key agents of change FOCAL RESOURCES: Identify key resources of interest SYSTEM HEALTH: Identify key properties and processes Scoping Conceptual Modeling Integration Source: Kurt Jenkins, USGS/BRD Olympic Field Station