Inventory and Monitoring Program
The National Park Service (NPS) received a science mandate from Congress with the passing of the 1998 National Parks Omnibus Management Act and created the Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program. The I&M program's role is to inventory and monitor natural resources on NPS managed lands with special attention being paid to vertebrates, vascular plants, and species of special management concern.
National Park lands across the nation were divided into 32 networks based on physiographic similarity and administrative feasibility and two full time employees were hired to implement the I&M program in each. This is the South Florida and Caribbean Network, which consists of the following seven parks: Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, and Virgin Islands National Park.
Inventories are an important starting point for the I&M program because they provide information on the composition, distribution and relative abundance of species in parks. The I&M program is well on its way to completing a comprehensive national natural resource inventory effort on national park lands. Monitoring on the other hand, provides an ongoing effort to track the status and "health" of important natural resources. The NPS was created to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." The information and understanding gleaned from this science-based inventory and monitoring effort is intended to improve resource management in national parks as well as inform public policy development to better protect the natural resources of this nation.