Public lands and resources managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and other land management agencies provide a wide range of social and economic benefits to both nearby local communities and society as a whole, ranging from job creation, to access to unique recreational opportunities, to subsistence and tribal uses of the land. Over the years, there has been an increased need to identify and analyze the socioeconomic effects of the public’s use of NPS lands and resources, and the wide range of NPS land management decisions. This need stems from laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), increased litigation and appeals on NPS management decisions, as well as an overall need to demonstrate how parks benefit communities and the American public. To address these needs, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NPS have an ongoing partnership to collaboratively develop socioeconomic tools to support planning needs and resource management. This article discusses two such tools. The first, Assessing Socioeconomic Planning Needs (ASPN), was developed to help NPS planners and managers identify key social and economic issues that can arise as a result of land management actions. The second tool, the Visitor Spending Effects (VSE) model, provides a specific example of a type of analysis that may be recommended by ASPN. The remainder of this article discusses the development, main features, and plans for future versions and applications of both ASPN and the VSE.
The National Park Service (NPS) manages the Nation’s most iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors from across the Nation and around the world. Trip-related spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. This economic effects analysis measures how NPS visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income.
In 2014, the National Park System received over 292 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $15.7 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 277 thousand jobs, $10.3 billion in labor income, $17.1 billion in value added, and $29.7 billion in output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with 48 thousand jobs and $4.8 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally. The sector with the next greatest direct contributions was restaurants and bars, with 60 thousand jobs and $3.2 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally.
New this year, results from the Visitor Spending Effects report series are available online via an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. This interactive tool is available via the NPS Social Science Program webpage at http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.
Analysis of 5 years of vegetation monitoring data from Rocky Mountain National Park
Lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS) provide a wide range of beneficial services to the American public. This study quantifies the ecosystem service value of carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems within NPS units in the conterminous United States for which data were available. Combining annual net carbon balance data with spatially explicit NPS land unit boundaries and social cost of carbon estimates, this study calculates the net metric tons of carbon dioxide sequestered annually by park unit under baseline conditions, as well as the associated economic value to society. Results show that, in aggregate, NPS lands in the conterminous United States are a net carbon sink, sequestering more than 14.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The associated societal value of this service is estimated at approximately $582.5 million per year. While this analysis provides a broad overview of the annual value of carbon sequestration on NPS lands averaged over a five year baseline period, it should be noted that carbon fluxes fluctuate from year to year, and there can be considerable variation in net carbon balance and its associated value within a given park unit. Future research could look in-depth at the spatial heterogeneity of carbon flux within specific NPS land units.
Reflections on a vision for integrated research and monitoring after 15 years
In May of 1998, Owen Bricker and his co-author Michael Ruggiero introduced a conceptual design for integrating the Nation’s environmental research and monitoring programs. The Framework for Integrated Monitoring and Related Research was an organizing strategy for relating data collected by various programs, at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and by multiple science disciplines to solve complex ecological issues that individual research or monitoring programs were not designed to address. The concept nested existing intensive monitoring and research stations within national and regional surveys, remotely sensed data, and inventories to produce a collaborative program for multi-scale, multi-network integrated environmental monitoring and research. Analyses of gaps in data needed for specific issues would drive decisions on network improvements or enhancements. Data contributions to the Framework from existing networks would help indicate critical research and monitoring programs to protect during budget reductions. Significant progress has been made since 1998 on refining the Framework strategy. Methods and models for projecting scientific information across spatial and temporal scales have been improved, and a few regional pilots of multi-scale data-integration concepts have been attempted. The links between science and decision-making are also slowly improving and being incorporated into science practice. Experiments with the Framework strategy since 1998 have revealed the foundational elements essential to its successful implementation, such as defining core measurements, establishing standards of data collection and management, integrating research and long-term monitoring, and describing baseline ecological conditions. They have also shown us the remaining challenges to establishing the Framework concept: protecting and enhancing critical long-term monitoring, filling gaps in measurement methods, improving science for decision support, and integrating the disparate integrated science efforts now underway. In the 15 years since the Bricker and Ruggiero (Ecol Appl 8(2):326–329, 1998) paper challenged us with a new paradigm for bringing sound and comprehensive science to environmental decisions, the scientific community can take pride in the progress that has been made, while also taking stock of the challenges ahead for completing the Framework vision.
Dendroclimatic potential of Plains Cottonwood (Populus deltoides Subsp. Monilifera) from the Northern Great Plains, USA
Edmondson, J., J. Friedman, D. Meko, R. Touchan, J. Scott, and A. Edmondson
A new 368-year tree-ring chronology (A.D. 1643–2010) has been developed in western North Dakota using plains cottonwood (Populus deltoids subsp. monilifera) growing on the relatively undisturbed floodplain of the Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We document many slow-growing living trees between 150–370 years old that contradict the common understanding that cottonwoods grow fast and die young. In this northern location, cottonwood produces distinct annual rings with dramatic interannual variability that strongly crossdate. The detrended tree-ring chronology is significantly positively correlated with local growing season precipitation and soil moisture conditions (r = 0.69). This time series shows periods of prolonged low radial tree growth during the known droughts of the instrumental record (e.g. 1931–1939 and 1980–1981) and also during prehistory (e.g. 1816–1823 and 1856–1865) when other paleoclimate studies have documented droughts in this region. Tree rings of cottonwood will be a useful tool to help reconstruct climate, streamflow, and the floodplain history of the Little Missouri River and other northern river systems.
Modeling mountain pine beetle disturbance in Glacier National Park using multiple lines of evidence
Assal, T.J., J. Sibold, and R. Reich
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Vegetation Dynamics II, Association of American Geographers 2013 Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA. April 13, 2013
Though a third of amphibian species worldwide are thought to be imperiled, existing assessments simply categorize extinction risk, providing little information on the rate of population losses. We conducted the first analysis of the rate of change in the probability that amphibians occupy ponds and other comparable habitat features across the United States. We found that overall occupancy by amphibians declined 3.7% annually from 2002 to 2011. Species that are Red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declined an average of 11.6% annually. All subsets of data examined had a declining trend including species in the IUCN Least Concern category. This analysis suggests that amphibian declines may be more widespread and severe than previously realized.
MODIS Phenology Image Service ArcMap Toolbox
Talbert, C., T. Kern, J. Morisette, D. Brown, K. James