Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

The Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) Program provides framework, funding, and publishing support to parks to aid in the synthesis and documentation of natural resource conditions. Condition assessment reports are a tool to describe selected park resources, and record a snapshot of their current condition, identify trends, and identify potential or current threats and stressors. Understanding the condition and trend of natural resources is key for parks and NPS planners to appropriately prioritize and allocate stewardship resources.

Rainbow and dark sky over green plains and white teepee.
Rainbow over Agate Fossil Hills, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, 2016

J. Goodman/NPS photo.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located in the Niobrara River Valley of western Nebraska. The Monument contains 11,617 acres and preserves a unique area of the High Plains. This area is distinguished from other grassland types by the harsh winter climate, short growing seasons, periodic, severe droughts, and vegetation. The park was created to preserve the rich fossil deposits and their geological contexts amidst today's natural ecosystem. Numerous mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds inhabit or pass through the park, undisturbed and protected.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2018

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes in this national monument, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was initiated through a partnership between the National Park Service, the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database. The technical report was published in 2018 and evaluated the condition of 11 resource topics:

- viewshed

- night sky

- air quality

- surface water quality

- geology

- paleontological resources

- vegetation

- birds

- fish

- pollinators

- soundscape

The results of this assessment showed that three resources were given a good condition rating: viewshed, night sky, and soundscape; five resources were given a rating of moderate concern: air quality, surface water quality, geology, vegetation, and pollinators; fish was the only resource rated significant concern with a downward trend; and paleontological resources and birds had an unknown condition rating due to lack of current data. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument staff recognized the importance of continued monitoring in the monument, and development of current and new educational programs. A partnership with Scotts Bluff National Monument was also initiated, in which the two monuments will be able to share a paleontologist and biotechnician in order to continue management of these resources.

For other reports and natural resource datasets visit the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Collection 7765 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Last updated: August 15, 2022


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