Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Lassen Volcanic 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.

Dark blue Lake Helen at the base of a rocky Lassen Peak.
Lassen Peak and Lake Helen.

NPS Photo.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is an outstanding example of a dynamic geologic landscape. Lassen Peak is the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range, located in northeastern California. The park is unique in that it preserves examples of all four types of volcanoes recognized by geologists: shield, composite, plug dome, and cinder cone volcanoes. Also within the park is the most extensive, intact network of geothermal resources west of Yellowstone National Park, including examples of boiling springs, mudpots, and fumaroles.

Although Lassen Volcanic National Park is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Over 700 flowering plant species grace the park, providing shelter and food for 250 vertebrates as well as a host of invertebrates including insects.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2013

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes present in the Park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written and published in 2013. This project was a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University, and the University of California, Davis. This team examined the greatest resource concerns within the park and chose six resource topics to assess:

- Changes in precipitation, snowpack, and water availability

- Changes in surface waters and their resources

- Changes in terrestrial vegetation

- Changes in wildlife

- Changes in air quality

- Changes in the natural quality of the park experience

The results of the assessment showed that resources within Lassen Volcanic National Park had mixed conditions. This review noted that a significant concern is the distorted age distributions of forest stands and lengthened fire rotations as a result of fire suppression. Another significant concern is air quality, particularly the increasing levels of ozone. Also, restriction of long-distance visibility as a result of airborne particulates was rated “somewhat concerning,” as were potential threats to native amphibians. Also, given the probability of climate warming in this region, more regular and extensive monitoring is warranted of the park’s subalpine plants and animals, timing and amount of snowmelt, stream flows and points of flow initiation, pond and wetland water quality, aquatic plants, and aquatic invertebrates.

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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