Natural Resource Challenge

Yellowstone Geyser Basin.
Yellowstone Geyser Basin.

NPS Photo / Gwen Gerber

The National Park Service's Action Plan for Preserving Natural Resources

National parks protect an astounding wealth of forests, seas, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, and grasslands. The National Park Service (NPS) has endeavored to protect these areas—and the plants and animals that call them home—for nearly 100 years. We cannot protect what we do not understand, however, and so the Natural Resource Challenge was created in 1999 to improve our knowledge of natural resources across the National Park System.

The goal of the Challenge was to understand, measure, and improve the health of park ecosystems. It addressed three main challenges:

  • protecting native species and their habitats,
  • providing leadership for a healthy environment, and
  • connecting parks to protected areas and parks to people.

The Challenge included a series of natural resource funding requests developed by park superintendents and subject matter experts to meet natural resource management needs. Congress approved the first funding increases in Fiscal Year (FY) 2000; subsequent increases followed for the next seven years. Challenge funding has increased the professional expertise of natural resource managers; introduced and expanded research, protection, and restoration projects; improved education efforts; and supported cooperative programs that engage partners in studying natural resources.

This website documents the history of the Natural Resource Challenge, from the action plan where NPS leaders first outlined the strategy for improving natural resources to annual Reports to Congress that detail natural resource accomplishments across the National Park System.

Useful Resources

Last updated: April 12, 2016