Inventory and Monitoring at Blue Ridge Parkway

Closeup of a Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) plant in the forest.
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a common target for poachers along the Parkway.

Photo by Gary Kauffman

The Blue Ridge Parkway has complex geology, topography and climate, including a 5,400-foot elevation range, high annual rainfall rates (100 inches-plus), and the long geologic stability of the Appalachian Mountains, which all contribute to its unusually high biodiversity. The parkway is home to 1,614 species of vascular plants, 45 amphibians (the highest number in any NPS unit), 24 globally rare plant communities, and numerous rare plant and animal species, including nine that are federally-listed as endangered or threatened.

Natural resource concerns at the parkway include invasive exotic species, resource theft (plants and minerals), unsustainable or inappropriate recreational use, habitat fragmentation, introduced forest pests and diseases, intensive development adjacent to park boundaries, and air quality (BLRI was the highest-ranked park in the country for acid deposition risk or impact, according to a 2011 NPS Air Resources Division report on sensitivity of National Parks to acidification from atmospheric sulfur and nitrogen deposition).

The network monitors water quality, exploited plants, and landscape change at the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Last updated: July 30, 2018