• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

Environmental Factors

Officers Quarters on a blustery day.
The Officers' Quarters at American Camp has withstood nearly 150 years of winter storms.
NPS Photo

Standing on the redoubt (earthen fortification) at American Camp one can gaze south across the prairie to South Beach and across the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains, and on a clear day to Mt. Rainier.

To the east is the 290-foot ridge of Mt Finlayson, half forest, half prairie. To the north across Griffin Bay is Orcas Island and Mt. Baker and the North Cascades. To the west, across the parade ground, is the housing development that borders the park’s western boundary.

From this perspective (except perhaps for the houses sprouting up on the grasslands, it is easy to think of San Juan Island NHP as frozen in time within the Strait of Georgia. However, the dynamic forces of geologic processes, weather, climatic change and fire continue to shape and change the appearance of the park and influence its plant and animal life.

Human-caused factors such as air, water, noise and light pollution, introduction of non-native species, and thoughtless destruction of fragile natural and cultural resources contribute to undesirable change. San Juan Island National Historical Park, like other National Parks, is a “living laboratory” where we can study and better understand the environmental processes and factors that have shaped and continue to shape park landscapes and ecosystems.

Inventory of resources and resource conditions provides the baseline data. Monitoring provides timely insight into natural and human-caused changes. Action may be taken to mediate or attempt to mediate adverse effects.

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