The Inventory and Monitoring Program is a major component of the National Park Service’s strategy to improve park management through greater reliance on scientific information. Nationwide, 270 national parks have been grouped into 32 Vital Signs Networks linked by geographic similarities, common natural resources, and resource protection challenges. The network approach facilitates collaboration, information sharing, and economies of scale in natural resource monitoring.
The Cumberland Piedmont Network (CUPN) consists of 14 parks with diverse cultural and natural resources distributed across seven states and six different physiographic regions. The preliminary monitoring objectives for CUPN are centered upon the framework of three major ecosystems: aquatic, caves, and terrestrial.
The goals of Inventory and Monitoring networks are:
- inventory the natural resources and park ecosystems under National Park Service stewardship to determine their nature and status;
- monitor park ecosystems to better understand their dynamic nature and condition, and to provide reference points for comparisons with other, altered environments;
- establish natural resource inventory and monitoring as a standard practice throughout the National Park system;
- integrate natural resource inventory and monitoring information into National Park Service planning, management, and decision making;
- share accomplishments and information with others and form partnerships for reaching common goals and objectives.