Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Friendship Hill National Historic Site

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.

Two-story house with a well and green grass in front.
Friendship Hill National Historic Site.

NPS Photo

Friendship Hill National Historic Site was established in November 1978 to commemorate the life and many accomplishments of Albert Gallatin (1761-1849). Gallatin’s former residence is now a Historic Site including 675 acres (273 hectares) of rolling hills overlooking the Monongahela River in southwest Pennsylvania, and its unique mix of cultural and natural resources is preserved by the National Park Service. As a small park focused primarily on cultural resources, background information on associated environmental resources is not widely available. Furthermore, the data that do exist are fragmented, making assessment of the natural resource statuses and trends within the park a difficult task.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2019

Preliminary scoping efforts for the Natural Resource Condition Assessment began in 2014, but within a few months, there was a substantial personnel change at The Pennsylvania State University, forcing a long delay before the project resumed. The Natural Resource Condition Assessment for Friendship Hill National Historic Site was published in 2019 and provides an evaluation of their current state for twelve resource topics:

- Air quality

- Forest health

- Water quality

- Landscape

- Wetlands

- Soundscape

- Aquatic species

- Lightscape

- Wildlife

- Visitor use

- Invasive species

- Threatened and endangered species

The natural resources within Friendship Hill National Historic Site are moderately impacted. Five resource topics were considered to be in good condition: wildlife, threatened and endangered species, landscape, soundscape, and lightscape; four other resources were given a condition rating of moderate concern: wetlands, aquatic species, forest health, and visitor usage; and three resources were given a condition rating of significant concern: air quality, water quality, and invasive plant species. Most of the serious concerns reflect regional air quality issues and acid mine drainage issues over which this historic site has little control; the most important action the park can take in response to this assessment is to continue to collect site-specific baseline data on its natural resources.

It would be beneficial to site staff to develop baseline data on visitor impacts to natural resources. Such data is especially important as human traffic in the park increases; the surge in visitation over the past decade is good for the site’s message but necessitates some caution with respect to natural resources. A recurring obstacle in designating condition, trend, and confidence statuses was a lack of spatial and temporal data. Ideally, to address this issue, the park would begin to collect site-specific data, both to confirm resource conditions and to serve as a baseline for future trend analyses, and regularly manage and interpret the data.

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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