The National Park Service often has to respond to geologic hazard events after they occur (retroactively). Geologists assist in evaluation of and response to the event. However, the preferred approach is to work proactively to identify and address geologic hazards before they result in injury or property loss, or at least plan for future hazard risk mitigation.
During the Park planning process, geohazards can be addressed by conducting geologic hazard inventories, risk assessments, mitigation, and incident preparation. The goals of geohazard planning include:
- Identify and address geologic hazards before they result in injury or property loss, and
- Plan for future hazard risk mitigation.
Proactive management of geologic hazards in the parks is carried out through appropriate application of science, technology, and policy support.
Unstable Slope Management Program
Transportation corridors (roads and trails) in our majestic public lands contain numerous unstable and potentially unstable slopes and slope failures. A variety of slopes including natural and constructed rock slopes, soil cut slopes and soil embankments are all subject to failures occurring as rockfall, landslides, debris flows, creep, settlement, etc. These slope failures range in severity - some cause injury and property damage and block traffic or trail usage, while others are maintenance nuisances that go unnoticed by the general public.
The National Park Service has worked with other federal land management agencies to develop an Unstable Slope Management Program (USMP). USMP provides tools and guidance to manage slopes though implementing an asset management-based program. The program uses on-line and mobile tools for inventorying and assessing the condition of unstable slopes, tracking unstable slope events, assessing risk, and performing benefit-cost analysis on ranked unstable slopes.
USMP provides a critical tool to ensure that slopes adjacent to transportation corridors are considered as park assets and benefit from a systematic, defensible management program not unlike other management programs for assets like retaining walls or hazard trees.