Adjacent Land Use
Parks Where Protocol will be Implemented: BITH, GUIS, JELA, NATR, PAAL, PAIS, SAAN, VICK
One of the highest priority management concerns for parks in the GULN is changing land use outside of the park boundaries and the potential impacts of those changes on park natural resources. Increased development around the parks can contribute to the increased presence of non-native, invasive species; contribute to fragmentation of habitats; alter water and air quality; impact park viewscapes and soundscapes; increase litter and debris within the park; and increase visitor impacts. Information about changes in the type and intensity of usage of adjacent lands is thus of immense potential value to park managers. Adjacent Land Use (ALU) has, accordingly, been selected as a high priority vital sign for the GULN monitoring program.
Conceptually, two general types of approaches may be considered for assessing and monitoring changes in land use: 1) �historical� approaches where one documents land use changes that have already occurred, using techniques such as aerial and satellite imagery and written records, and 2) �predictive approaches�, where one assesses evidence for upcoming development by tracking such activity as changes in parcel ownership, changes in planning unit (such as zoning or Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts), and building permits to forecast near-future development. The �historic� approach, widely used by land managers, is the basis for current development of NPS service-wide ALU monitoring. GULN is developing a more real-time, or predictive, approach and methodology that will augment the monitoring of �historic� changes in land use by providing network parks with current datasets and GIS-based change analyses on the interval that new data become available. Thus giving the potential to detect and prepare for planned development that has a high probability of occurring in the near future on adjacent lands.
Key reasons for monitoring to detect parcel changes and planned development of lands adjacent to network parks are that (1) changes in land use, type and intensity inevitably lead to changes in threats that transfer across boundaries to impact park resources; (2) natural and cultural resources are specifically identified in park founding legislation and as key management objectives of the parks, and these resources are vulnerable to threats originating from adjacent land use; (3) actual development planning documents, such as filed building permits and zoning requests, are likely to be the best indicators of what will be built, changed, or developed on adjacent lands into the near-future; and (4) the earliest and most-precise possible warning of upcoming land use changes will provide park management with their best opportunity to develop appropriate responses to coming changes; i.e., an �early warning system�. The GULN ALU-Early Warning System monitoring protocol has been developed to acquire and report on site- and parcel-specific information within defined �belts or buffer-zones� on lands adjacent to parks.