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Revitalize and expand the natural resource program within the park service and improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge.

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Presentation on theme: "Revitalize and expand the natural resource program within the park service and improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge."— Presentation transcript:

1 Revitalize and expand the natural resource program within the park service and improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge National Park Service Natural Resource Challenge

2 Revitalize and expand the natural resource program within the park service and improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge National Park Service Natural Resource Challenge

3 State of the Parks Report (circa 2000) 80 (1/3) of the natural resource parks had no professional natural resource manager Another 84 parks had only 1 or 2 natural resource professionals. Almost all projects/studies were short-term; staff mostly deals with the crisis of the day. Few parks are able to identify the desired future condition of resources, or current status & trend. No TimeNo Money No Clue

4 NPS Natural Resource Challenge Provides funding and new positions for natural resource stewardship to add to NPS visitor services capability Learn what is in parks (inventories), and monitor the vital signs of natural systems Engage the scientific community and the public, and facilitate their inquiries Share the information widely

5 NPS Natural Resource Challenge Accelerate Inventories Design/Implement Vital Signs Monitoring Collaboration with scientists and others Improve Resource Planning Enhance Parks for Science Assure Fully Professional Staff Control Non-native Species Protect Native and Endangered Species Enhance Environmental Stewardship Expand Air Quality efforts Protect and restore Water Resources Establish Research Learning Centers Revitalize and expand the natural resource program within the NPS & improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge

6 The 7 parks will work collaboratively to design and implement a Network Monitoring Program … that will provide timely and relevant, scientifically credible information to Park managers and the public. Through these efforts we will be better able to understand, and explain to others, the status and trends in key components and indicators of Park ecosystems, and how they have and will respond over time to natural and human induced changes both from within and outside of Park boundaries. This comprehensive, integrated long-term ecological monitoring program provides for better protection, restoration and maintenance of the natural ecosystems under NPS management. Vision Statement of the Board of Directors, North Coast and Cascades Network

7 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:

8 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:

9 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:

10 The Burning Question Who will use the monitoring results and what will they do with them? Who are the intended audiences and what is the most effective way to get the information to them?

11 Inventory, Monitoring, Research studies Invasive species (e.g., weeds, insect pests, diseases) Threatened & endangered species Restoration Planning – GMPs,Resource Stewardship Plans Compliance – NEPA, Permits Performance management – GPRA goals Interpretation – connect with visitors Maintenance (e.g., trails, mowing, vegetation control) Law enforcement & visitor safety Acquire funding to make things happen Deal with politics & people dynamics – local, WASO, DOI, OMB Issues and Tasks involved in Managing the Natural Resources of a Park Know, Protect, Restore, Connect Information is the common currency among all of these park stewardship activities

12 Overall Purpose of Vital Signs Monitoring: Determine status/trends in the condition of park resources: Assess the efficacy of management and restoration efforts; Provide early warning of impending threats; Provide a basis for understanding and identifying meaningful change in natural systems characterized by complexity, variability, and surprises – improves decision-making.

13 The intent of park vital signs monitoring is to track a subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems that are selected to represent the overall health or condition of park resources, known or hypothesized effects of stressors, or elements that have important human values.

14 Goals of Vital Signs Monitoring Determine status and trends in selected indicators of the condition of park ecosystems to allow managers to make better-informed decisions and to work more effectively with other agencies and individuals for the benefit of park resources. Provide early warning of abnormal conditions of selected resources to help develop effective mitigation measures and reduce costs of management. Provide data to better understand the dynamic nature and condition of park ecosystems and to provide reference points for comparisons with other, altered environments. Provide data to meet certain legal and Congressional mandates related to natural resource protection and visitor enjoyment. Provide a means of measuring progress towards performance goals. (You cant have performance management without monitoring)

15 Monitoring Strategy is based on initial Funding Realities Without integration and cost-sharing, parks could only monitor a few things; too few to adequately track the condition of a parks resources; Park buy-in and cost-leveraging through partnerships are critical; must be relevant to park managers and flexible to allow integration and partnerships; Establish 32 monitoring networks that share funding and staffing among parks to gain efficiencies and consistency. Funding level (avg. $100,000 per park) would allow each park to hire one professional position (GS-9 or 11) plus about $30-40 K operating $$ Conclusions & Resulting Strategy: Start with a modest program

16 Vital Signs Monitoring Strategic, national program to allow 270+ parks to identify most critical data needs and initiate long-term monitoring now; start with bare bones program Primary audience: park managers, but results will also be used for park planning, interpretation, and performance management. Parks share permanent professional staff and funding to focus on long- term monitoring of condition of selected resources; emphasizes integration among components (synthesis, modeling) and programs (air, water, interpretation, fire program, T&E, invasive species, learning centers) Flexibility allows parks to maximize the use and relevance of the data for managing parks and to gain efficiencies through partnerships Emphasis on making information more available and usable; integration with other park operations; building institutional knowledge

17 Park Management Informed by Scientific Information – Integration with other Park Operations View monitoring as an information system Integrate natural resource information with other park operations Make information more useful and available for managers at local level Make data available to others for research, education; modeling, more sophistical analyses Understand, protect, restore park resources (Adapted from National Water Quality Monitoring Council) >33% of resources dedicated to data management, analysis, reporting

18 GMP planning meetings at Pipestone and Wilsons Creek Cultural landscape report at Wilsons Creek NB Trail expansion planning at Effigy Mounds Prairie restoration seed mix at Scotts Bluff Adjust timing of prescribed fires at several parks Trailside interpretive signs at Pipestone Vegetation Mapping at Effigy Mounds Road show meetings with managers and interpreters Uses of Plant Community Monitoring Data Prairie Cluster Monitoring Program Prairie Cluster Prototype Monitoring Program A Network Success Story

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