SCIENCE AND THE NATIONAL PARKS

Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service

Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1992



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Science and the National Parks SCIENCE AND THE NATIONAL PARKS Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1992

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Science and the National Parks NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The project was supported by Department of the Interior, contract no. 0490-9-8001. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data United States. Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service. Science and the national parks / Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service [and] Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-04781-1 1. National parks and reserves—Research—United States. 2. National parks and reserves—United States—Management. 3. United States. National Park Service—Management. I. National Research Council (U.S.) Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. II. Title. SB482.A3 1992 333.78'15'0973—dc20 92-26303 CIP Cover: Nevada Fall, Rainbow, Yosemite National Park, c. 1947. Photograph by Ansel Adams. Copyright © 1992 by the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 1992 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, August 1992 Second Printing,May 1993

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Science and the National Parks COMMITTEE ON IMPROVING THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE PAUL G. RISSER (Chair), University of New Mexico, Albuquerque ANN M. BARTUSKA, U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. JOHN W. BRIGHT, National Park Service (retired), Evergreen, CO ROGER J. CONTOR, National Park Service (retired), Ellensburg, WA JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle THOMAS A. HEBERLEIN, University of Wisconsin, Madison JOHN C. HENDEE, University of Idaho, Moscow IAN L. MCHARG, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia DUNCAN T. PATTEN, Arizona State University, Tempe ROLF O. PETERSON, Michigan Technological University, Houghton ROLAND H. WAUER, National Park Service (retired), Victoria, TX PETER S. WHITE, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill National Research Council Staff DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Program Director CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Staff Officer ROBERT B. SMYTHE, Senior Staff Officer (until 8/91) KATE KELLY, Editor SANDRA S. FITZPATRICK, Program Assistant Sponsor National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

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Science and the National Parks BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY PAUL G. RISSER (Chair), University of New Mexico, Albuquerque FREDERICK R. ANDERSON, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Washington, D.C. JOHN C. BAILAR, III, McGill University School of Medicine, Montreal LAWRENCE W. BARNTHOUSE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge GARRY D. BREWER, Yale University, New Haven EDWIN H. CLARK, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, State of Delaware, Dover YORAM COHEN, University of California, Los Angeles JOHN L. EMMERSON, Lilly Research Laboratories, Greenfield, IN ROBERT L. HARNESS, Monsanto Agricultural Company, St. Louis ALFRED G. KNUDSON, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia GENE E. LIKENS, The New York Botanical Garden, Millbrook PAUL J. LIOY, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ JANE LUBCHENCO, Oregon State University, Corvallis DONALD MATTISON, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh GORDON ORIANS, University of Washington, Seattle NATHANIEL REED, Hobe Sound, Florida MARGARET M. SEMINARIO, AFL/CIO, Washington, DC I. GLENN SIPES, University of Arizona, Tucson WALTER J. WEBER, JR., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Staff JAMES J. REISA, Director DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Associate Director and Program Director for Applied Ecology and Natural Resources RICHARD D. THOMAS, Associate Director and Program Director for Human Toxicology and Risk Assessment LEE R. PAULSON, Program Director for Information Systems and Statistics RAYMOND A. WASSEL, Program Director for Environmental Sciences and Engineering

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Science and the National Parks COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN (Chair), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore ROBERT C. BEARDSLEY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts B. CLARK BURCHFIEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge PETER S. EAGLESON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge HELEN INGRAM, Udall Center for Public Policy Studies, Tucson GENE E. LIKENS, The New York Botanical Garden, Millbrook SYUKURO MANABE, Geophysics Fluid Dynamics Lab, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey JACK E. OLIVER, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York PHILIP A. PALMER, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Newark, Delaware FRANK L. PARKER, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee DUNCAN T. PATTEN, Arizona State University, Tempe MAXINE L. SAVITZ, Allied Signal Aerospace, Torrance, California LARRY L. SMARR, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign STEVEN M. STANLEY, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore CRISPIN TICKELL, Green College at the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, United Kingdom KARL K. TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut IRVIN L. WHITE, Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories, Washington, D.C. Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director JANICE E. MEHLER, Assistant Executive Director JEANETTE A. SPOON, Administrative Officer CARLITA PERRY, Administrative Assistant ROBIN L. LEWIS, Senior Project Assistant

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Science and the National Parks The National Park Service has reached a time in its history, and in the history of the nation, when science and research should be given a much greater and clearly recognized responsibility in policy making, planning, and operations. Seat-of-the-pants guessues in resource preservation and management are open to challenge and do not stand up well in court or in the forum of public opinion. To be right in decisions affecting natural environments, and to serve its educational missions, the Service requires an increasingly sophisticated system of gathering new facts and getting them applied at all levels, from the back country to [the Washington office]. DURWARD ALLEN AND STARKER LEOPOLD, 1977

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Science and the National Parks Preface America's national parks are more than just special and often spectacular pieces of landscape; they are a shared, precious part of our national heritage. For more than three quarters of a century, through the lifetime of most of us, the National Park Service has held a dual responsibility to conserve the resources of the parks and to provide for their enjoyment by the American people. But increasing numbers of visitors and the myriad stresses of the modern world are turning that dual mission into a losing battle. Today, many distinguishing features and resources of the national parks are in serious jeopardy. Over the past 30 years, more than a dozen major reviews by independent experts and the National Park Service itself have concluded that park management must be guided much more by scientific knowledge and less by managerial guesswork. Yet, over three decades, little meaningful and consistent action has been taken by the National Park Service in response to repeated recommendations for a substantially stronger research program. In 1990, National Park Service Director James M. Ridenour stated his intent to place high priority on strengthening the research program and the role of science in park man-

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Science and the National Parks agement, and he asked the National Research Council for assistance. In response to his request, the Council convened the Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service, which prepared this report. The 12 members of this independent, multidisciplinary committee brought a wide array of expertise and experience in various fields of research, as well as experience with the National Park Service and other federal agencies. Four members of the committee had served with the National Park Service at one time in their careers, and virtually all members have conducted research in the parks. The committee's meetings included extensive discussions with National Park Service staff and a site visit to observe research activities at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. A National Park Service working group organized by Dr. Eugene Hester, the Associate Director for Natural Resources, was very helpful in providing information and insights, as were the thoughtful letters and calls from many other individuals throughout the Service, from Regional Directors to park scientists. Writing this report was challenging for several reasons. First, the scope of the needed research is quite broad, including such fields as biology, physics, chemistry, meteorology, geology, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, and data management. Second, the administrative and organizational questions required consideration at various levels ranging from individual parks, to cooperative park study units, to the Service's ten regions, to the Washington office and the Servicewide programs operated by that office. Also, we wanted to write a report worded strongly enough to prompt real change by the Service but not implying criticism of the scientists and other National Park Service employees who have been making outstanding contributions, often under extremely demanding conditions. Finally, the committee was aware that many previous reviews examining essentially the same issues have seen little response from the National Park Service, so there was considerable discussion about how to present the committee's conclusions and recommendations in ways that could really help make a difference.

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Science and the National Parks Throughout this process, several National Research Council staff members were extremely dedicated and effective. Chris Elfring, David Policansky, and James Reisa performed valuable roles in helping the committee reach consensus on complex points, in writing and editing the report, and in responding to the comments of reviewers. Robert Smythe assisted during the committee meetings. And throughout the project, Sandi Fitzpatrick supported all of us cheerfully, patiently, and effectively. On behalf of the entire committee, I extend grateful appreciation to these fine professionals for a job well done. Finally, I wish to express my personal appreciation and admiration to the members of the committee. Throughout this effort, we all felt an enormous sense of responsibility because of the importance of the national parks and our knowledge of the needs and opportunities for science to help protect them. Dealing with the issues dispassionately was difficult at times. Yet, each committee member listened carefully to the opinions and ideas of others, weighed the various arguments, and worked together toward a common understanding and set of recommendations that we fervently hope will benefit the Service and the national parks. Paul G. Risser, Chair Committee on Improving the Science and Technology Programs of the National Park Service

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Science and the National Parks The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Science and the National Parks Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1     The Importance of Research   2     Previous Reviews of the NPS Research Program   4     The Current Research Program   6     Recommendations   9     An Explicit Legislative Mandate   10     Separate Funding and Autonomy   11     Building Credibility and Quality   11     Realizing the Vision   12 1.   INTRODUCTION   15     Conditions Today   16     Conservation Amidst Change   17     The Charge to This Committee   21 2.   THE IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH FOR THE NATIONAL PARKS   23     Resource Inventories and Monitoring for Change   25     Studies of Natural Dynamics and Processes   27     Assessing Threats and Mitigation Measures   32     Conclusion   38

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Science and the National Parks 3.   PREVIOUS REVIEWS OF RESEARCH IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE   41     Past Reports   42     Conclusion   54 4.   THE CURRENT RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE   59     Organization   60     Personnel   73     Research Budgeting   76     Conclusion   82 5.   A NEW MANDATE FOR SCIENCE IN THE NATIONAL PARKS   87     An Explicit Legislative Mandate for Science   88     Separate Funding and Autonomy   100     Building Credibility and Quality   106     Realizing the Vision   109     REFERENCES   113     INDEX   117

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Science and the National Parks SCIENCE AND THE NATIONAL PARK

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