Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Cedar Breaks 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.

Red rock canyons beneath clouds in a blue sky
Clouds over Red Rock.

Photo credit: Rob Whitmore

Cedar Breaks National Monument is located in southwest Utah on the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau. Located at over 10,000 feet, Cedar Breaks offers opportunities to experience one of the most easily accessible high elevation units in the national park system. Visitors experience a diversity of recreational and educational opportunities within the quiet solitude, colorful beauty, dark night skies, and endless vistas of the monument, through cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, viewing the spectacular summer wildflowers and watchable wildlife, backcountry hiking red rock canyons and streams below the amphitheater, or appreciating the changing colors of autumn.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2018

In order to better understand the conditions of the natural resources within this park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was coordinated by the National Park Service staff, Utah State University, and the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit. The technical report for Cedar Breaks National Monument was published in 2018 and 11 resource topics were selected for assessment:

- Viewshed

- Vegetation

- Night sky

- Unique and distinctive vegetation

- Soundscape

- Non-native and invasive plants

- Air quality

- Birds

- Geology

- Mammals

- Seeps and springs

Six resources were given a rating of good condition to moderate concern: viewshed, night sky, soundscape, geology, non-native invasive plants, and mammals; two resources were rated moderate to significant concern: air quality and upland vegetation; and three resources were not given a condition score due to a lack of current data: springs and seeps, unique and distinctive vegetation, and birds.

Continued monitoring and data analysis will aid the park in future condition assessments and management actions. Cedar Breaks National Monument is a park that faces many threats including increasing temperatures due to climate change, especially given the high elevations at the monument, and an ever-increasing human population within and surrounding Cedar City, Utah. Monument management has developed a proactive science program that partners with other parks, agencies, and the local community. These partnerships will become even more important in maintaining or influencing monument resource conditions and identifying necessary adaptations in a rapidly changing environment.

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: June 24, 2022


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