Abstract - USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program

Cogan, Dan, Marriott Hollis, Von Loh Jim and Pucherelli Michael J.. 1991. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program.


The Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program of the National Park Service (NPS) was created in 1991 to provide park managers with critical information on natural resources. A long-term goal of this program is to provide baseline inventories of the biological and geophysical resources for all natural resource parks. To address this need, the NPS entered a multi-year partnership with the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Biological Resources Division (BRD) to map the vegetation resources of 235 national parks, monuments, and historic sites. Goals of the USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program include the following:

  • Provide support for NPS Resources Management
  • Promote vegetation-related research for both NPS and USGS/BRD
  • Provide support for NPS Planning and Compliance
  • Add to the information base for NPS Interpretation
  • Assist in NPS Operations

Efforts to make this program a reality have lead to various work contracts with other government and private agencies. Among those contracted was the United State Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Group (RSGIG) based at the Federal Center Denver, Colorado. The task of the RSGIG was to create a digital, spatial database representative of the vegetation occurring at Wind Cave National Park (WICA), South Dakota during 1997. The primary subcontractor for vegetation classification and characterization is The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Minneapolis Satellite Offices Minneapolis, MN) and its affiliate the Wyoming Nature Conservancy (Lander, WY).

The specific objectives of this study included:

  • Creation of vegetation and mapping classifications based on the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS)
  • Development of a spatial database for the vegetation of WICA using remote sensing and GIS techniques.
  • Production of digital and hard copy vegetation maps, assessed to be at least 80% accurate.

Vegetation mapping for WICA falls under the USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program’s general task of completing all the national parks within the Great Plains Ecosystem. Other parks in this region that have been mapped or are currently in progress include: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Jewel Cave National Monument, Devil’s Tower National Monument, Scott’s Bluff National Monument, and Fort Laramie National Historic Site. Any available data pertaining to these and other USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping projects can be accessed at the USGS/BRD’s website: http//biology.usgs.gov/npsveg.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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