Natural Resource Condition Assessments for New River Gorge National River

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 wooden walkway runs through a forested canyon in late autumn.
Appalachian Flatrock.

Photo by Dave Bieri, NPS.

A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. Located in southern West Virginia, the New River Gorge National River encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2018

In an effort to better understand and manage the natural resources of the area, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was completed in 2004. A second NRCA, published in 2018, is a form of re-assessment that permits a better understanding of the trends in resource conditions at the site. Staff from the NPS, Pennsylvania State University, and U.S. Geological Survey worked together to identify the natural resources and stressors to include in this second condition assessment. The final report includes 24 resource topics:

- Acoustics/soundscapes

- Xeric plant communities: oak and rimrock pine

- Dark night sky

- Mixed mesic forest

- Visibility

- Eastern hemlock

- Ozone

- Appilacian flatrock and riverscour prairies

- Sulfur and nitrogen deposition

- Rare and medicinal plants

- Mercury and toxics

- Fish

- Climate change

- Aquatic invertibrates (mussels/crayfish)

- Scenic vistas

- Allegheny woodrat

- Geology/mass movements

- Bat communities

- Cliff communities

- Salamanders

- Water quality: New River

- Birds

- Water quality: wadeable tributaries

- Game species

Two of the 24 natural resource topics assessed were considered to be in good condition; 15 were of moderate concern; and seven of the 24 resources were determined to be of significant concern. A detailed comparison of the two NRCA assessments is presented in the report; in general, the overall score for natural resource conditions at the site has declined over the 13 year interval. This lower score is due, in part, to a better understanding of all natural resources at the site but also due to non-native pests and pathogens and poor water quality originating outside of the borders. Continued resource stewardship, planning, and protection, both with and outside the boundaries, will help to ensure that New River Gorge National River remains an important natural area within the Appalachian Mountains.

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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