Natural Resource Condition Assessments for American Memorial Park

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.

Palm fronds framing a tropical beach with white sand and azure water.
American Memorial Park Shoreline and the Saipan Lagoon, looking north to Mañagaha Island.

NPS Photo by Robbie Greene 2013

American Memorial Park is located on the island of Saipan, the largest and most populated island within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The park was designated to honor the American and indigenous people who died in the 1944 Mariana Island campaign of World War II. American Memorial Park is referred to as a “living memorial” because of the opportunities for visitors today to partake in some of the same recreational activities that WWII service men and women participated in during wartime. These activities occur amidst a biological and physical setting that is dynamic and unique.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2019

In order to better understand the natural resources and processes in this park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written and published in 2019. This project was completed as a cooperative partnership between American Memorial Park and the University of Guam Marine Laboratory and its project partner, Pacific Coastal Research & Planning. The study was based upon three sources of input: (1) Compilation of existing literature and research results, (2) consultation of local experts and solicitation of resource stewards; knowledge, and (3) processing and assessment of publicly available environmental datasets relevant to the park. Five resource topics were evaluated:

- Mangroves and wetlands

- Coastal scrub and secondary forests

- Shore and near-shore habitats

- Developed greenspace

- Hydrology

Overall, natural resources in American Memorial Park were found to be in good condition (coastal scrub, and developed green space), or of moderate concern (mangroves and wetlands, shore and near-shore habitats, and hydrology). Through this evaluation, the park found that there were many threats, stressors, and data gaps which the park will strive to address in the future. The park is surrounded by areas experiencing rapid changes in the natural, developed, and cultural landscapes. Shifts in environmental stressors continue to impact the park at varying temporal scales. Long-term alterations in climate and ocean conditions create uncertainties for future natural resource conditions, while immediate and short-term concerns related to spillover effects from the adjacent urban environment have a discernable influence.

Extreme weather events such as typhoons continue to impact the park resources but remain largely unstudied. This report discusses the impacts of the Category 4 Typhoon Soudelor to the park after it made a direct hit to Saipan in August 2015. Soudelor caused widespread damage in the park, felling up to 90% of the trees in some areas. However, little is known about the full impact of the storm on park resources other than personal observation of NPS staff. These limitations should be kept in mind throughout the NRCA, not just as an overarching caveat, but also as an impetus for enhanced research and monitoring within this small, remote, and constantly changing unit.

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: December 16, 2022


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