Natural Resource Condition Assessments
IWS and the National Park Service (NPS) are collaborating on a series of Natural Resource Condition Assessments (NRCAs) for parks in the Intermountain and Pacific West Regions (IMR and PWR).

What are NRCAs?

The NPS has identified 32 Vital Signs Monitoring Networks spanning 270 National Parks across the United States, within which NRCAs are being conducted.  Each assessment:
1) focuses on park-specific natural resources and their management;
2) evaluates and reports on current conditions, critical data and knowledge gaps associated with these resources; and
3) describes resource threats and stressors common to multiple parks.

Goals of Assessments

NRCAs provide a snapshot-in-time evaluation of resource conditions for the most important subset of park resources.  The main goal is to gather information that assists NPS managers to:

•   Develop near-term management priorities
•   Engage in watershed and landscape scale partnerships and education efforts
•   Conduct park planning
•   Report program performance


The public will gain better insight, management awareness and sustainability of the natural resources in the parks included in this study. This project’s implementation will also help foster the development of the IWS academic environmental science program.

Involvement with this study supports the mission of IWS, which includes gathering information necessary to maintain biodiversity. The primary value IWS realizes is the enhancement of the knowledge base it uses to develop and deliver comprehensive natural resource management strategies to land managers from multiple entities. The result is more and better trained professionals in the ecological sciences and a better understanding of the resource management of NPS units.

The final report will be published as part of the NPS Natural Resource Publication Series (see example) and will be used by the parks as a basis for management decision-making and by the scientific community in public and private institutions as a basis for more in-depth studies.

IWS work involves 12 parks or park groups. Following are some examples:

Intermountain Region Parks  

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

New Mexico

Black Canyon of the Gunnison       Photo by Lisa Lynch

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park



Zion National Park


Pacific West Region  
Great Basin       Photo by Wolfgang Artmüller

Cabrillo National Monument


Lake Mead

Channel Islands National Park


Fort Vancouver gate with pointy boardsPhoto by Visitor7

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site


Golden GatePhoto by Adbar

Lewis and Clark National Historic Park


Pu'ukohola Heiau temple ruinsPhoto by Bamse

Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site


Kaloko Honokohau shore

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park


Pu'uhonua o Honaunau statuesPhoto by Kobac

Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park


Background photo: Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado

Further description and examples can be found at:

Email Dr. Schwemm for more information