National Park Service

North Coast and Cascades Network (NCCN)


Water quality sampling (NOCA)
Water quality sampling (NOCA)

The intent of park vital signs monitoring is to track 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, known or hypothesized effects of stressors, or elements that have important human values.

The elements and processes that are monitored are a subset of the total suite of natural resources that park managers are directed to preserve "unimpaired for future generations," including water, air, geological resources, plants and animals, and the various ecological, biological, and physical processes that act on those resources.

In situations where natural areas have been so highly altered that physical and biological processes no longer operate (e.g., control of fires and floods in developed areas), information obtained through monitoring can help managers understand how to develop the most effective approach to restoration or, in cases where restoration is impossible, ecologically sound management.

The NCCN Monitoring Plan provides a detailed description of the strategy for monitoring these vital signs. The table below shows the detailed monitoring protocols used to sample these vital signs to date.

Protocols implemented in NCCN Parks
North Coast and Cascades Network Monitoring Activities by Park


Vital Signs Sampling Protocol Status
Climate Complete
Elk Complete
Fish Assemblages Complete
Forest Vegetation Complete
Glaciers Complete
Intertidal Complete
Landbirds Complete
Landscape Dynamics Complete
Large Lowland Lakes * Complete
Mountain Lakes Complete
Prairie Vegetation Complete
Subalpine Vegetation Complete
Water Quality Complete
* Protocol is approved and published but implementation is deferred until
funding becomes available.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster