Oregon Caves National Monument
About the Park
Oregon Caves National Monument, situated within the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon, was established to protect the natural processes of the Oregon Caves discovered at the time the Monument was created, as well as any new caves found within the boundaries of the Monument. Protection includes management of old-growth forest and its associated species and natural processes within the watershed of the caves to assure that the chemistry of the water entering the caves is reflective of natural cycles associated with the region. The caves are managed to preserve the collection of Pleistocene fossil bones and footprints as well as its endemic, cave dwelling life that is found there.
Those features that will most need additional protections and mitigations of adverse effects in the face of climate change include old-growth forest (including meadows and riparian areas) and cave ecosystems, historic structures, and the positive experiences of physical or other visitors to the Monument. Since the very fact of rapid climate change changes the efficacy of various management strategies to accomplish the above goals, such strategies are addressed in the appropriate sections in the plan.
This Action Plan identifies steps that Oregon Caves National Monument can undertake to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to mitigate its impact on climate change. The plan presents the Park’s emission reduction goals, and associated reduction actions to achieve the Park’s goals. While the plan provides a framework needed to meet the park’s emission reduction, it is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to implement each of the proposed measures. The park’s Environmental Management System will describe priorities and details to implement these actions.
GHG emissions result from the combustion of fossil fuels for transportation and energy (e.g., boilers, electricity generation), the decomposition of waste and other organic matter, and the volatilization or release of gases from various other sources (e.g., fertilizers and refrigerants). The majority of the emissions at the Monument result from food services and hotel housekeeping provided by the concession and waste and waste removal by the park. A smaller portion is largely the result of park maintenance and contractor actions to improve or sustain communication and other utility systems, restore historic features at the park, like road curbing, keep water from damaging structures in both historic and non-historic buildings, and performing more routine maintenance functions. Additional emissions result from transportation to the Monument.
In 2007, GHG emissions within Oregon Caves National Monument totaled 208 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park. The largest emission sector for Oregon Caves National Monument is energy (mainly heating), totaling 173 MTCO2E (Fig 1 and Table 1). This high percentage is in part because the two largest buildings in the Monument, the Chalet and Chateau, are poorly insulated and presently cannot be winterized during the winter season due to plumbing that at present cannot be drained in the winter.
The next largest emission is from vehicles used to visit the Monument. Although visitor surveys indicate that there has been a substantial increase in regional versus extra-regional visitors since the late 1970s (~70% & 30% to ~35% & 65%), there are still many visitors from both areas that do not efficiently integrate an Oregon Caves visit with other attractions in the area.
The figure below, taken from our Climate Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2007 broken down into sectors, including visitor travel.
Oregon Caves National Monument aims to mitigate or counter the climate-induced anthropogenic threats to the Monument’s historical fidelity (especially to natural processes and historical features), its biodiversity, and the resilience of its ecosystems in the face of the cascading effects of rapid climate change. Oregon Caves National Monument has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from park operations to 80% below 2007 levels by the year 2012 by implementing emission mitigation actions, and to being carbon neutral by 2018.
To read more about what we are doing at Oregon Caves National Monument about climate change, check out our Action Plan!