The six parks within the Klamath Network face many future threats, ranging from local effects of trails and campgrounds to far-field influences of climate change. The Klamath Network Monitoring Program is developing a system to monitor the health of park natural resources through time and to alert managers when they are affected. Although the modest base funding of the Inventory and Monitoring Program will not permit monitoring of all species and threats in the Network, it will provide critical staff and resources to track a subset of priority issues. The National Park Service uses the term "Vital Signs" to describe such a subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems that are selected to represent the overall health or condition of park resources. Through Vital Signs monitoring and strategic inventory, research, and monitoring partnerships, the program will provide the scientific foundation to protect park resources in an uncertain future.
All Inventory and Monitoring Networks in the National Park Service are following a three phase approach (see I&M web site) to the development of a Long-term Monitoring Plan. Phase I of the process involves defining goals and objectives, synthesizing existing data, developing draft conceptual models, and completing other background work that must be done before the selection of vital signs. Each network is required to document these tasks in a Phase 1 report. Phase II of the planning and design effort involves prioritizing and selecting the vital signs that will be included in the Network's initial integrated monitoring program. Phase III entails the detailed design work needed to implement monitoring, including identification of objectives, sampling protocols and statistical sampling designs, and development of data management databases and protocols. The Klamath Network is currently in Phase 3 of the development of its monitoring program.