Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Scotts Bluff National Monument

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.

An 800 foot tower of rock sits in the midst of mixed grass prairie.
Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska.

NPS Photo

Towering 800 feet (244 meters) above the North Platte River in the Nebraska panhandle, Scotts Bluff has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. For the pioneers, it was visible for several days before they actually reached it and it meant the end of the plains and the beginning of the mountains on the journey west. Rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, most of the monument’s 3,000 acres (1214 hectares) is comprised of mixed-grass prairie.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2018

In an effort to better understand and manage the natural resources of the park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was completed, and published in 2018. In collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS), staff from the University of Wyoming identified 11 resource topics to assess in the study:

- Viewshed

- Vegetation

- Night sky

- Breeding birds

- Soundscape

- Black-tailed prairie dog

- Air quality

- Invertibrate pollinators

- Water quality

- Geology

- Paleontological resources

Five of the resource topics (viewshed, air quality, vegetation, prairie dogs, and pollinators) studied were found to be of moderate concern. The remaining resources were of significant concern with the exception of birds; the authors were unable to assign a condition rating to birds in the absence of specific management goals. Several management themes emerged across these natural resources such as the vulnerability of the monument to land use changes and activities on adjacent lands. The report provides park leaders with information to support near-term planning and management, long-term strategic planning, and effective science communication to decision-makers and the public.

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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