Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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 view of a valley from a rocky ridge.
Lower Pine Spring Canyon

NPS Photo.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of America’s “best kept secrets” located in Texas, just south of the New Mexico border. The Guadalupe Mountains rise sharply from the surrounding desert floor to form an island of outstanding diversity. Several different ecosystems, or life zones, are found within the park. These include the harsh Chihuahuan desert community, lush streamside woodlands of oaks and maples, rocky canyons, and mountaintop forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. Together, these ecosystems provide habitat for 60 species of mammals, 289 species of birds, and 55 species of reptiles.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2013

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes within this park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was conducted and published in 2013. National Park Service representatives and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota collaborated to determine park needs and available data. This team chose 16 resource topics to evaluate:

- Fire regime

- Desert scrub

- Dune communitites

- Birds

- Sky island (montane forest)

- Reptiles

- Riparian and canyon communities

- Mountain lion

- Semidesert grassland

- Air quality

- Water quality

- Hydrology

- Soundscape

- Geological and paleontological resources

- Viewscape

- Dark night skies

Four resource topics were considered to be in good condition: semidesert grasslands, birds, viewscape, and geological and paleontological resources. Two resource topics were given a conditions status of moderate concern: air quality and sky islands (montane forest). Fire regime is the only resource topic given a condition status of high concern. The remaining nine resource topics were not assigned a condition status due to lack of historic or current data. Current condition could not be determined for many components due to existing data gaps; however, several of these data gaps are being addressed through monitoring programs.

Understanding the condition of these resources can help managers prioritize management objectives and better focus conservation strategies to maintain the health and integrity of these ecosystems.

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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