New Reports Detail Natural, Historic and Cultural Resources in America’s National Parks
WASHINGTON – National Park Service scientists and managers are taking a close look at the overall condition of the national parks in their care and have begun to report their findings in a series of State of the Park reports.
“As the stewards of America’s national parks, we want to make sure that future generations can enjoy parks that are in as good as or better shape as they are today,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “To succeed, we need to know the current condition of the parks, make management decisions to maintain or improve their condition, and keep the public informed as we proceed.”
The State of the Parks project is one of 39 significant actions Jarvis laid out in A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement. At least 50 national parks are expected to complete these in-depth condition assessments by 2016, the National Park Service’s centennial.
Each park report has a “snapshot” of the status and trends in the condition of its most important resources and values; summarizes and communicates complex scientific, scholarly, and park operations information; highlights the stewardship efforts of park staff to maintain or improve the condition of park resources; and identifies key issues and challenges facing park managers.
“The reports contain good news,” Jarvis said, “but we also found places where we need to take action to improve park resources, facilities, and visitor experiences.” Park managers will use state of the park information to set priorities for improvement and will update the initial report over time.
While each of these parks is very different, their State of the Park reports reveal some common accomplishments and challenges. Visitor satisfaction – how visitors rate their experience in a national park – usually rests at 95 percent and higher. Visitors also give high marks for ranger-led talks, tours, and special events. At the same time, all seven parks identified the presence of invasive plants and animals as a moderate or significant concern.
“National parks today face a variety of challenges, but none as great as our changing climate,” Jarvis said. “First of all, we’re taking action to shrink our carbon footprint. For example, we reduce carbon emissions by driving electric vehicles and replacing old equipment with energy-efficient products. We install energy-efficient lighting and purchase green energy where possible. We also share information about what we do so park visitors or people who visit us online can, where practicable, follow our lead in their homes and communities.”
State of the Park Reports for Big Hole National Battlefield (Mont.), Cabrillo National Monument (Calif.), Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Alaska), Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Minn.), Salem Maritime National Historic Site (Boston,) Saugus Iron Works National Historical Site (Boston,) and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Ariz.) are online at www.nps.gov/stateoftheparks/ and on each park’s website. More State of the Park reports are underway and will be available on the website as they are completed.
For more information about A Call to Action, Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement, visit www.nps.gov/calltoaction
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at: www.nps.gov