Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Flight 93 National Memorial

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.

A field of yellow flowers and pine trees, with a tall tower in the background
“Tower of Voices”

Photo by Brenda Schwartz

Flight 93 National Memorial is a 2,277-acre memorial located in Somerset County in southwest Pennsylvania, near Shanksville. The park marks the crash location where, on the morning of September 11, 2001, passengers and crew of hijacked United States Flight 93 selflessly thwarted a planned attack on Washington, D.C. The purpose of the park is to honor the passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who courageously gave their lives, allow the public to visit the site and express their feelings about the event and the passengers and crew of Flight 93, and to preserve the solemn and tranquil setting of the crash site.

Flight 93 National Memorial is a unique park in that its resources are a combination of culturally significant features to honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93, and natural resources that make up the surrounding landscape setting.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2020

In order to better understand the natural resources and processes within this memorial, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written and published in January 2020. This assessment was a collaborative effort between National Park Service staff and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Five focal resource topics, and their associated indicators, were chosen for assessment by park staff and managers:

- Air quality

- Night sky and acoustic quality

- Biological quality

- Ecological quality

The resources were evaluated using regional datasets and Flight 93 National Memorial specific projects. Air quality indicators, on average, were of significant concern; night sky and acoustic quality were in good condition and of significant concern, respectively; stream water quality indicators averaged a good condition rating, although some individual indicators were unknown; many biological quality indicators were unknown, with the exception of birds and pollinators which had a good condition rating; and environmental quality indicators averaged moderate concern, with a few in good condition.

Flight 93 National Memorial and other southwestern Pennsylvania NPS sites support diverse natural communities, successional features, and culturally significant features. These NPS sites were established to highlight the historic value of the southwestern Pennsylvania landscape, but also contain valuable biological and ecological features that should be considered in the context of cultural resource management. The evaluations revealed that there is still much to learn about the park’s natural resources, and park staff and managers are eager to establish partnerships that will help to fill the data gaps.

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 29, 2022


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