City of Rocks National Reserve

About the Park

City of Rocks National Reserve

At City of Rocks National Reserve, located in southern Idaho, increasing temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns may alter park ecosystems, changing vegetation communities, habitats available for species, and the experience of park visitors. The Reserve is located at what scientists refer to as a bio-geographic crossroads. Such places exhibit high species turnover and are typically rich in species overall. This stems from the fact that crossroads are places where climatic regimes, geology, and other environmental features also “turnover” or transition. The Reserve features species typical of several biogeographic regions including the Northern Rocky Mountains, Snake River Plain, and the Northern Basin and Range. Of particular interest to the climate change discussion is the expanding/contracting population of Pinyon Pine, Simpson’s Hedgehog Cactus, Canyon Mouse, Ringtail, and Pinyon Jay, to name but a few.

The Reserve is managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. As part of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, City of Rocks National Reserve is involved in the regional effort within the NPS to become carbon neutral. The Region has developed a vision of having its park operations be carbon neutral, and of having all of its parks become Climate Friendly Parks Member Parks by 2010. Within the context of this larger vision, City of Rocks National Reserve developed the emission reduction and adaptation goals described in this plan.

The Climate Action Plan describes steps that City of Rocks National Reserve can undertake to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate its impact on climate change. Strategies and action plan items were developed by working groups at the North Coast & Cascade and Upper Columbia Basin Climate Friendly Parks Workshop. While the plan provides a framework needed to meet the park’s emission reduction goals, it is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to implement each of the proposed measures.

Emissions Profile

In 2007 GHG emissions within City of Rocks National Reserve totaled 207 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the Reserve. The largest total emission sector for City of Rocks National Reserve is transportation, totaling 156 MTCO2E. Transportation is also the largest emission section when considering only park operations at City of Rocks National Reserve at a total of 23 MTCO2E but energy is not far behind with 18 MTCO2E. The Reserve is primarily primitive public lands, with about 4,000 acres of private land used for grazing. Operational facilities and activities that support the Reserve are located outside the boundary on state park lands.

The graph below, taken from our Climate Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2007 broken down into sectors, including visitor travel.

Graph of GHG Emissions


City of Rocks National Reserve intends to:

  • Reduce GHG emissions from the Reserve to 25% below 2007 levels by the year 2016 by implementing emission mitigation actions identified by the Reserve.

To read more about what we are doing at City of Rocks National Reserve about climate change, check out our Action Plan