Although most parks within the Southern Plains Network (SOPN) were established primarily for cultural and recreational reasons, each park includes significant natural resources. Managers of SOPN and all national park units work to achieve the agency goal of protecting, restoring, and maintaining natural resources in good condition. One relatively recent, important tool to assist managers in this regard is the Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA).
The intent of the NRCA Program, administered by the National Park Service’s (NPS) Water Resources Division, is to provide documentation on the current conditions of selected, important natural resources in individual parks. This is accomplished through a multidisciplinary synthesis of existing scientific data, information, and knowledge on the selected natural resources. Focal study resources are chosen on a park by park basis. Examples of natural resources assessed in most SOPN NRCAs include (but are not limited to) night sky, soundscape, air quality, geology, grasslands, and landbirds.
Natural Resource Condition Assessments provide park managers a snapshot-in-time assessment and report on current conditions, critical data gaps, and condition influences for the selected focal resources. Findings of each report provide credible science to assist in park management and planning activities, and in relaying resource condition information to the public.
NRCA reports are prepared using guidelines established at the national level to maintain consistency and assure that each park receives the information it needs. A more detailed description of the national NRCA program and a link to the report guidelines can be found at Natural Resource Condition Assessment Program page. The list below provides completion dates and links to the NRCA reports prepared for SOPN park units.