Last updated: February 3, 2015
Environmental factors affect physical, natural and cultural resources in the American Southwest and around the world. Gaze into the Grand Canyon and you will see how natural environmental factors, such as geologic and hydrologic activity, and weather have effected changes in the landscape over the course of millenia. However, after Europeans arrived in the Southwest, human-induced environmental factors began to affect and change the landscape much more rapidly. Widespread grazing, fire suppression and the introduction of nonnative species have dramatically changed fire regimes across the Southwest, resulting in catastrophic wildfires and destruction that won’t be remedied for centuries. Water development to slake the thirst of ever growing populations has inundated valleys and canyons, submerging natural areas and cultural treasures under the surface of man-made reservoirs. A changing climate is altering the habitats of plants and animals across the Southwest. Parks and I&M networks conduct research to understand how environmental factors affect the landscape and resources, and what can be done to ameliorate negative effects of these changes.