Inventory & Monitoring

Fundamental to the National Park Service’s ability to manage park resources “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” is the need to understand the condition of park natural resources. To document status and trends of these resources, a Vital Sign monitoring program has been in development in the North Coast and Cascades parks since 2001. The program is designed to characterize trends in the status of the park ecosystems, to asses the efficacy of management practices, and to provide early warning of impending threats.

Vital Signs are a subset of the physical, chemical, and biological elements of park ecosystems that are believed to be sensitive indicators of the overall health or condition of park resources. Vital Signs may include known or hypothesized effects or stressors and may feature elements with important human values. Vital Signs monitoring will help define the normal limits of natural variation in park resources, providing a basis for understanding future changes. Monitoring results may also be used to define impairment and to identify the need to initiate or change management practices. Results from NCCN parks monitoring are reported to the national Inventory and Monitoring program and are used as a part of an ecological health “scorecard” reported to Congress each year.