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.
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
In order to better understand and protect species with minimal or decreasing populations, it is imperative to determine their actual existing population size. The focal species for this project is the Gunnison sage-grouse (GUSG), which became a proposed endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, thus confirming the need for better population estimates. Lek site counting during mating season has historically been the primary method for estimating population size since the grouse are very difficult to count at other times of the year. The objective of this project was to use historical data and available technology to identify additional potential lekking sites. This was done by determining areas throughout the study area that have the same landscape characteristics as those where known lekking activities occur. More accurate population counts could be the outcome of locating more lek sites.
One of the remaining seven GUSG populations, the Crawford population (estimated at 128 individuals) exists in an area that includes the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and the northern portion of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (our study area). While the Crawford population is small, it is still considered a self-sustaining population; the persistence and growth of this population directly contribute to genetic diversity conservation of this declining species. To date, only observational and anecdotal information about the Crawford population’s range, movements, and seasonal habitat use exist.
From 1978 to the present, GUSG population monitoring has been accomplished through annual lek counts conducted each spring during GUSG mating season. Although this method has provided information on GUSG population trends, it is somewhat limited because counts are based only on known lekking sites and historically minimal efforts have been made to identify additional lek sites. To meet the objective of locating more potential lekking sites, we used a suite of spatial data, geographic information system tools, and maximum entropy species distribution tools. Based on expert knowledge and landscape variables, the modeling process evolved into a hybrid approach for delineating areas that would have a significant probability for supporting GUSG lekking activities. Based on model results, a sampling protocol was developed for model verification. The results of this project provide wildlife managers with a more sophisticated methodology to evaluate GUSG habitat for potential lekking sites.
Black-footed ferret conservation: a mix of scientific investigation and operational tasks
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93rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists, June 14-18, 2013, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania