Soil Resources Inventory

scientist examining soil
Soil sampling site at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Through the partnership with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Soil Resources Inventory (SRI) projects help parks secure the information needed to manage soil sustainability and to protect water quality, wetlands, vegetation communities, and wildlife habitats. The information also assists in the control of exotic species and establishment of native communities, as well as management of high-use or developed areas in the park (e.g., visitor centers, campgrounds, trails, access roads).

The key SRI products are:

  • Digital maps of the park soils
  • Data about the physical, chemical, and biological properties of those soils
  • Information on the use and management of these soils
  • Metadata discribing information sources and quality
  • Informational products such as a soil survey manuscript, fact sheets, and image galleries

The information is in sufficient detail for application by park managers, planners, engineers, scientists, and researchers to specific areas of concern. Although park soil resource inventories follow procedures identified by the National Cooperative Soil Survey, the specific work plans are customized by local park personnel to meet their soil resource management needs.

There are many challenges in completing a soil resource inventory on parklands, and most of our larger parks lack soil maps. Working cooperatively with the NRCS and several universities, the SRI is pursuing the use of new soil mapping technologies to facilitate data acquisition in remote areas, as well as those parks where wilderness designation or the presence of cultural landscapes preclude the use of traditional methods.

The National Park Service defines soil as the unconsolidated portion of the earth's crust modified through physical, chemical, and biotic processes into a medium capable of supporting plant growth.

Partners

National Cooperative Soil Survey

The National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) is a nationwide partnership of federal, regional, state and local agencies; and private entities and institutions. This partnership works together to cooperatively investigate, inventory, document, classify, interpret, disseminate, and publish information about soils of the United States and its trust territories and commonwealths. The activities of the NCSS are carried out on national, regional, and state levels.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for the leadership of soil survey activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the leadership and coordination of NCSS activities, and for the extension of soil survey technology to global applications. Additional information about the soil survey program is in the NRCS General Manual under Title 430, Part 402.

Related Links

Soil Education at the USDA-NRCS
NRCS Guide to hydric soils
Soil Health (Quality) at USDA-NRCS
Soil Biology at USDA-NRCS


University Partners
There are many challenges in completing a soil resource inventory on parklands, and most of our larger parks lack soil maps. Working cooperatively with the NRCS and several universities, the SRI is pursuing the use of new soil mapping technologies to facilitate data acquisition in remote areas, as well as those parks where wilderness designation or the presence of cultural landscapes preclude the use of traditional methods.

Related Links

Soil Resources Program at Colorado State University
University of California, Davis Soil Resource Laboratory

Tools

  • Site Index