Air Resources Overview

View out over canyon and rocks past distant hills. Blue sky except for a layer of air pollution clearly visible above the valley floor.
A view from the High Sierra Trail shows a thick layer of air pollution above the San Joaquin Valley. This mid-afternoon view looks down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River.

National Park Service/Rick Cain


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) periodically experience some of the worst air quality in the National Park Service. The Clean Air Act and the National Park Service Organic Act mandate that SEKI protect air-quality-related values and resources within the parks from adverse impacts of air pollution.

The SEKI Air Resources program has been involved in air quality monitoring for over 25 years, one of the longest running air programs in the National Park Service. An emphasis is placed on knowing the abundance of pollutants that are atmospherically transported into these parks, their health effects on employees and visitors, and their effects on the natural resources that we are charged to protect.

Person climbs meterological tower to check instruments
Data are collected at a meteorological station on the edge of the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.

NPS Photo

Monitoring and research, planning, participation in regulatory activities (with regional, state, and federal regulatory groups), partnerships, and education are key components of the SEKI's program. The knowledge gained through monitoring and research allows park staff to plan future actions and provide input into regulatory activities, thereby increasing the likelihood that regulatory decisions will benefit these parks. Partnerships facilitate communication and help stretch limited funding. Education, both of the general public and park staff, strengthens understanding of the need for improved air quality.

Currently, the program is directly involved with the following: implementation of a daily air quality advisory of the parks; research into the effects of air pollutants on vegetation; research and monitoring of ozone, nitrogen, and particulates; synthetic chemicals, fine particulate matter, meteorology, wet and dry deposition chemistry (acidic, nitrogen, contaminant deposition), and visibility.

The air program also includes an educational outreach program, and cooperates with the Environmental Protection Agency (national), the California Air Resources Board (state), and the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (regional).


Last updated: February 14, 2019

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