Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Gauley River National Recreation Area

A river running over rocks and a tree-covered mountain behind it.
Gauley River

NPS/Dave Bieri

The Gauley River National Recreation Area was established to protect and preserve the scenic and natural resources of the Gauley River and its tributary. The park lies in the Allegheny Mountains in central West Virginia, in an area where streams have cut narrow canyons into the rocky slopes. The Gauley River as it runs through the park is considered to be one of the best whitewater rivers in the country and the most popular recreational activity is whitewater rafting.

The varying topography throughout the gorge supports a tremendous diversity of vegetation and wildlife. Much of the park is covered by upland deciduous forests and mixed evergreen-deciduous forests with small areas of cliff and riparian vegetation communities.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2019

In order to better understand the natural resources and processes present in the Gauley River National Recreation Area, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written and published in 2019. National Park Service staff, Gauley River National Recreation Area managers, and partners at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota worked together to evaluate the condition of ten natural resource topics found within the recreation area:

- Upland forest communities

- Riparian vegetation communities

- Birds

- Herpetofauna

- Mammals

- Aquatic wildlife community

- Water quality

- Air quality

- Dark night skies

- Surface geologic features

Two components were considered to be in good condition (upland forest communities and birds). Three components were of moderate concern (riparian vegetation communities, water quality, and dark night skies). Only the air quality component was determined to be of significant concern. Condition could not be determined for three of the biological components (mammals, herpetofauna, and aquatic wildlife community). Despite the variety of habitats at Gauley River National Recreation Area, many of the resources discussed in this report are interrelated and share similar management concerns.

Several of the park’s data needs involve the continuation or expansion of monitoring programs to accumulate enough data for identification of trends over time. Gauley River National Recreation Area is a diverse park with a variety of rare and unique resources, from dense stands of continuous upland forest to the raging rapids of the Gauley River. Continued monitoring of the priority resources within the Recreation Area, combined with management efforts directed at minimizing disturbance potential, will aid many of these natural communities and ensure their continued presence in the park.

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: February 25, 2022


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