Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Blue Ridge Parkway

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.

An overlook into a valley with tree-covered hillsides.
Wiseman's View Scenic Overlook with view of Table Rock.

NPS/ A. Armstrong

The Blue Ridge Parkway is located along the central and southern Appalachian Mountains in the states of Virginia and North Carolina. It is unique among NPS units: the Parkway corridor traverses numerous habitat types and offers unparalleled views along the Southern Appalachian ridgeline. Spectacular leaf colors are a main attraction every fall. Some of the most sensitive and diverse high-elevation communities in the region are preserved along the Parkway. The Parkway lies at the heart of one of the most biologically diverse temperate areas on Earth and harbors thousands of species.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2013

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes within the Blue Ridge Parkway, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was conducted and published in 2013. National Park Service representatives examined the relevant data and needs of the Parkway, and chose to assess 13 resource topics:

- Air quality

- Forest pests and disease

- Particulate matter and visibility

- Fish assemblages

- Weather and climate

- Bird assemblages

- Hydrology and water quality

- Herpetofauna assemblages

- Aquatic macroinvertebrates

- Mammal assemblages

- Exotic plants

- Landscape change

- Significant flora

The assessment results showed that the overall conditions of resources within the Blue Ridge Parkway were mixed. Aquatic macroinvertebrates, significant flora, bird assemblages and mammal assemblages were given a good condition rating; particulate matter and visibility, exotic plants, forest pests and disease, and landscape change were all given a condition rating of moderate concern/fair condition; air quality, hydrology and water quality, and fish assemblages had indicators with mixed condition ratings; and weather and climate and herpetofauna assemblages were not assigned a condition rating due to insufficient data.

The Parkway continued to face threats and stressors including atmospheric pollutants, exotic vegetation and animals, forest pests, and wildlife disease. The staff and resource managers at Blue Ridge Parkway will continue to work with partners to preserve and protect the natural resources within this corridor.

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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