Natural Resources Monitoring at Capitol Reef National Park

People hike through open red rock landscape with brilliant blue sky
Field crew hikes past Jailhouse Rock, Capitol Reef National Park.

NPS

The Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors air quality, climate, invasive exotic plants, land surface phenology, landbirds, landscape dynamics, uplands, wadeable streams, and water quality at Capitol Reef National Park. The results of that monitoring provide park managers with scientific information for decisionmaking.

Before becoming a national park in 1971, Capitol Reef National Park was established as Capitol Reef National Monument by Presidential Proclamation in June 1937, to reserve in the public interest "narrow canyons displaying evidence of ancient sand dune deposits of unusual scientific value, and . . . various other objects of geological and scientific interest." The park is best known for the geologic wonders of the Waterpocket Fold, the Cathedral Valley, narrow canyons, and evidence of ancient sand-dune deposits.

Elevation varies from 2,731 meters (8,960 feet) on Thousand Lake Mountain in the northwest section to 1,183 meters (3,880 feet) in Halls Creek at the southern tip. The park supports a patchwork of terrain, life zones, and habitats in which even slightly different combinations of slope, aspect, exposure, elevation, moisture, mineral content, and other variables blend to create distinctive microclimates and narrow niches. Woodlands and forests are common, occupying nearly every available habitat.

Shrublands are the most diverse plant communities. Herbaceous plant communities are common but patchy, and the distribution of riparian and wetland communities is limited. Past livestock grazing has altered the composition and structure of many grassland and riparian communities. The Fremont River flows through the park, its hydrology altered by the construction of a highway across a meander of the river in 1964, cutting off an old river oxbow.

Livestock grazing, increasing recreational use, collection and theft of rare and listed plants, adjacent land-use impacts, and exotic plant species invasion are the park's main natural resource management concerns.

Quick Reads

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    Publications and Other Information

    Several protocols are monitored at the network scale. For reporting on air quality, climate, land surface phenology, landbirds, and water quality, please visit Monitoring Reports.

    Park Briefs

    Park briefs summarize completed and upcoming monitoring for a given year.

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 515. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Monitoring Reports

    Invasive Exotic Plants at Capitol Reef NP

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 454 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Monitoring Reports

    Upland Vegetation and Soils at Capitol Reef NP

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 455 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Inventory Report and Brief

    Vegetation Classification and Mapping at Capitol Reef NP

    Source: Data Store Collection 4284 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Inventory Reports

    Climate, Herpetofauna, Invasive Exotic Plants, Mammals, and Vascular Plants at Capitol Reef NP

    Source: Data Store Collection 4285 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.