Natural Resource Condition Assessments for North Cascades National Park Complex

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 cloud-topped mountain range and the glimpse of a lake can be seen from a rocky mountain trail.
Pierce Mountain Trail.

NPS Photo.

North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan Recreation Area make up the North Cascades National Park Complex, which combines the three distinct units under a single administration. This complex is located in the Cascades Mountain Range in northwestern Washington, the northern boundary being the international boundary of the United States and Canada.

The park complex is characterized by deep forested valleys between high, glaciated mountain peaks. Several major rivers run through the North Cascades Park Complex, and supports an extremely diverse number of plant and animal species.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2015

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes present in this park complex, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was conducted and written in 2015. Representatives from the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, and the University of Washington collaborated to determine park needs and available data. This team chose 18 resource topics to evaluate

- Air quality and related values

- Forest health

- Lake water quality

- Fire ecology

- Stream water quality

- Hoary marmot and American Pika

- Biodiversity

- Bats

- Amphibians

- Glaciers

- Fish species in streams and lakes

- Soundscape

- Land birds

- Dark night skies

- Mammalian fauna

- Mammalian carnivores

- Landscape-scale vegetation dynamics

The assessment showed that many of the natural resources within the North Cascades National Park Complex are in good or moderate condition. Only six resource topics evaluated were in a condition of significant concern. Some threats that these parks face include effects from climate change, such as increased invasive species occurrence and increased glacial melt; regional air emissions; and non-native pests and diseases. Park managers will continue to monitor and manage these invaluable natural resources within these parks.

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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