Lava Beds National Monument

About the Park

Lava Beds National Monument is located in the northeast corner of California. Climate change presents significant risks and challenges to the National Park Service and specifically to Lava Beds National Monument, which contains rich and diverse cultural and natural resources that are susceptible and likely to incur impacts due to ongoing changes in climate. Changes from seasonal baseline conditions in both temperature and precipitation will have effects on the preservation of cultural resources, the viability of sensitive species, and may significantly alter cave environments, which are a major resource of the monument.

Lava Beds National Monument

The monument has been inhabited for over 11,000 years. This expanse of time encompasses early Native American use, habitation by the Modoc tribe, the Modoc war, the CCC and homesteading. The preservation of artifacts, rock art and structures related to these periods has been facilitated by Lava Bed’s cold and dry climate. Changes within baseline climatic conditions could lead to the accelerated decomposition of these cultural resources.

Lava Beds is a sanctuary for a host of sensitive species. Perhaps the species most likely to be affected by changes in climate is the pika. These distant relatives to rabbits inhabit areas with deep lava fissures and cave entrances in order to escape predation and more importantly solar heat.  Pikas are particularly sensitive to heat and will quickly expire if trapped in warm conditions. Unique to the monument is a population of pika that is found lower in elevation than any other known group. They are at the edge of their known range and losses incurred by this population are likely indicators of a changing climate.

The monument’s bats and cave-adapted macro-invertebrates use caves to complete their life cycles. Cave microclimates are strongly correlated with mean outside temperatures and respond to precipitation events. Species that require the use of the cave environment to survive and reproduce are susceptible to changes in these baseline conditions.

Evidence of changing microclimates in caves is being evaluated and monitored.  Perennial ice resources deep in the monument’s caves have been in dramatic decline over the past 20 years. The occurrence of warmer conditions in caves is leading to melt and a smaller window of time when ice can accumulate.

Emissions Profile

In 2007, GHG estimated emissions within Lava Beds National Monument totaled 653 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park. The largest emission sector for Lava Beds National Monument is transportation, totaling 456 MTCO2E (see Figure 1 and Table 1). The vast majority of transportation-related emissions result from visitor vehicle travel within park boundaries.

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

GHG Emissions


Lava Beds National Monument aims to:

  • Reduce 2007 energy GHG emissions from park operations by 35 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce 2007 transportation GHG emissions from park operations by 35 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce 2007 waste GHG emissions from park operations by 10 percent by 2016.
  • Reduce total 2007 park GHG emissions, including concessioners, by 20 percent by 2016.

To read more about what we are doing at the Lava Beds National Monument about climate change, check out our Action Plan!