Inventory and Monitoring Program
The Gulf Coast Network (GULN) includes eight national parks with significant natural resources. The network's geographic area encompasses the western third of Florida, all of Mississippi and Louisiana, the southeastern quarter of Texas, and extends up to Nashville, Tennessee. The GULN includes two seashores - Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) and Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS); two national preserves - Big Thicket National Preserve (BITH) and the Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (JELA); three battlefields, i.e., a civil war battlefield - Vicksburg National Military Park (VICK), a battlefield from the war of 1812 - JELA's Chalmette Battlefield, and a U.S.-Mexican War battlefield- Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park(PAAL); a Spanish mission park - San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (SAAN); and a national parkway - Natchez Trace Parkway (NATR).
The network's habitat variation includes barrier islands/seashores, coastal fresh to brackish marshes, bottomland hardwoods, cypress-tupelogum swamps, Mississippi River alluvial floodplain and loessal bluffs, rolling hill country and pastures, and the dry scrub/grasslands of Edwards Plateau. In their ecological affinities, the network parks can generally be thought of as belonging mainly to three physiographic regions: the West Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas and Louisiana (BITH, PAAL, PAIS, and SAAN), the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (JELA), and the East Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida (GUIS, VICK, and NATR). While NATR is predominantly within the East Gulf Coastal Plain throughout most of its length, a portion extends northeast into the extreme western portion to the Cumberland Plateau section of the Appalachian Plateau and into the Highland Rim section and Nashville Basin of the Interior Low Plateau.
The five goals of Inventory and Monitoring networks are:
- Inventory the natural resources 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 that transcends traditional program, activity, and funding boundaries.
- Integrate natural resource inventory and monitoring information into National Park Service planning, management, and decision making.
- Share National Park Service accomplishments and information with other natural resource organizations and form partnerships for attaining common goals and objectives.