National Park Service

Inventory & Monitoring (I&M)

Soil Resources Inventory

Soil profile photo
A profile of a Dolason soil from Redwood National and State Parks. These soils are in prairies of the Bald Hills area. The thick, dark surface layer is the dominant feature of soils that form under grasses and forbs.


Soil is defined as the unconsolidated portion of the earth's crust modified through physical, chemical, and biotic processes into a medium capable of supporting plant growth. Soil properties influence the natural and the physical infrastructure of the landscape and ecosystems. The NPS recognizes that a thorough inventory and evaluation of soil resources within National Parks is needed for comprehensive management, interpretation, and understanding of park resources.

Soil surveys conducted throughout lands under NPS stewardship provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources.

The Soil Resources Inventory (SRI) includes:

  • Maps of the locations and extent of soils
  • Data about physical, chemical, and biological properties of those soils
  • Information derived from those data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil

The information is in sufficient detail for application by park managers, planners, engineers, and scientists to specific areas of concern. The Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Program supports soils mapping and inventory based on standard terminology and techniques of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). SRI staff assist parks with identifying needs for soil mapping, so that park objectives are met through appropriate data collection and scale of mapping.


Products of the Soil Resources Inventory include:

Status (November 2013)

Working in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the SRI has completed mapping in 238 park units. Mapping is in progress in an additional 18 units. The NRCS will continue to support soil mapping until the project is completed. Special strategies are being developed in cooperation with the NRCS and private contractors to utilize advanced soil mapping technologies to handle the large-area mapping for parks in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington.

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Last Updated: April 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster