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Northeast Temperate Network (NETN)

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Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Middle Brewster Island of the Boston Harbor Islands NRA plays host to a nesting colony of Double Crested Cormorants
Middle Brewster Island of the Boston Harbor Islands NRA plays host to a nesting colony of Double Crested Cormorants. Carol Trocki photo.


Established as part of the National Park System in 1996, Boston Harbor Islands NRA has a threefold purpose of (1) preserving and protecting a drumlin island system within Boston Harbor, along with its associated natural, cultural, and historic resources, (2) telling the islands' individual stories and enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the island system as a whole, and (3) providing public access, where appropriate, to the islands and surrounding waters for education, enjoyment, and scientific and scholarly research for this and future generations. Managed by a unique 13-member partnership, the park's 34 islands are rich in both human history and breeding bird habitat. In 2002, the park was designated as a Massachusetts Important Bird Area (IBA). The IBA program, overseen by the international nonprofit group BirdLife, includes more than 2,000 sites in over 20 countries worldwide.

The Boston Harbor Islands are part of the only drumlin (an elongated hill in the shape of an inverted spoon or half-buried egg formed by glacial ice) field in the United States that intersects a coastline. Located in the Northeastern Coastal Zone level III ecoregion, the islands have a humid maritime climate characterized by a moderate annual range of temperatures and definite summer and winter seasons. The park encompasses a total of 1,480 terrestrial acres, with islands and peninsulas ranging in size from a quarter to over 300 acres. In addition, the park includes approximately 34 miles of shoreline and 1583 acres of intertidal habitat.

The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership facilitates natural, cultural, and social science studies and scholarly research. These studies support the park mission by providing a cumulative and constantly refined understanding of park resources, along with an understanding of park visitors, the non-visiting public, and human interactions with park resources. This approach provides a scholarly or scientific basis for planning, development, and management decisions.


The goals of NETN's Vital Signs Monitoring in the park include:

  1. Determine the status and trends in selected indicators of the condition of park ecosystems to allow managers to make better-informed decisions and to work more effectively with other agencies and individuals for the benefit of park resources.
  2. Provide early warning of abnormal conditions of selected resources to help develop effective mitigation measures and reduce costs of management.
  3. Provide data to better understand the dynamic nature and condition of park ecosystems and to provide reference points for comparisons with other, altered environments.
  4. Provide data to meet certain legal and Congressional mandates related to natural resource protection and visitor enjoyment.
  5. Provide a means of measuring progress towards performance goals.

View Park Related Publications by Topic:

Because most protocols address multiple vital signs, the NETN program is organized around protocols, rather than vital signs. The drop-down lists below show monitoring and inventory activity, as well as all park briefs for Boston Harbor Islands NRA. The protocol drop-downs also show the relative vital signs that are addressed by each protocol.

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Air Quality

Vital Signs Addressed

Acidic Deposition & stress,contaminants,and ozone.

Protocol Page

Air Quality
Climate (in development)

Vital Signs Addressed

Climate

Protocol Page

Climate
Coastal Birds

Vital Signs Addressed

Breeding Coastal Birds

Protocol Page

Coastal Birds
Invasive Species - Early Detection

Vital Signs Addressed

Invasive/Exotic Plants, Invasive/Exotic Animals

Protocol Page

Invasive Species

Park Target Invasive Species Guide

Boston Harbor Islands NRA (2014)
Phenology

Vital Signs Addressed

Phenology

Protocol Page

Phenology
Salt Marsh & Estuarine (in development)

Vital Signs Addressed

Acidic Deposition & stress,contaminants,and ozone.

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Air Quality
Climate (in development)
Phenology
Coastal Birds
Rocky Intertidal Community
Invasive Species - Early Detection
Salt Marsh & Estuarine (in development)

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Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals, and Birds
Vegetation Mapping

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Air Quality
Climate
Phenology
Coastal Birds
Rocky Intertidal Community
Invasive Species - Early Detection

Park Basline Inventories:

The Inventory and Monitoring Program provides guidance, funding, and technical assistance for parks to complete a set of 12 baseline, or "basic", natural resource inventories. These basic inventories are common to all parks with significant natural resources, and are intended to provide park managers with the minimum information needed to effectively manage the natural resources of their park. For more information, read the Fact Sheets for each of the inventories (PDF) by clicking here or on each individual inventory name.

Baseline Inventories Complete for Park? Reports, Documents & Data
Water Quality Y Baseline Inventory

Base Cartography

Y Base Cartography Data Inventory (2001 - 2010)
Air Quality Related Values Y Air Quality Monitoring in NETN Parks
Climate Inventory Y Weather and Climate Inventory for NETN parks (2006)
Geological Resources Inventory Map ready. Report in Progress.Scoping Summary available.

Map: GIS Format
Bedrock Geologic Map Data
Geomorphologic Map Data

Map: Google Earth
Bedrock Geologic Data KMZ in ZIP (55.1 MB)
Geomorphologic Data KMZ in ZIP (55.1 MB)

Soil Resources Inventory Y NPS - SRI - Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO)
Water Body Location and Classification N

National Hydrography Dataset Viewer

Hydrographic and Impairment Statistics (HIS)

Vegetation Inventory Y NPS Vegetation Inventory Project
Species Lists Y IRMA Species Search
Species Occurrence and Distribution Y Biological Resources Search on IRMA

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NETN Monitoring Map

Locations are approximate. For informational purposes only.

To open the map in a new window, click here.


Bird observations from eBird (non-NPS)

The Boston Harbor Islands NRA has been set up in eBird as a birding "hotspot". Help the park bolster bird data by adding your bird obsevations to eBird when you visit the park.


Species observations from iNaturalist (non-NPS)

inaturalist LogoLearn how you can contribute to iNaturalist

inaturalist LogoView Boston Harbor Islands NRA data on iNaturalist website



NPS Map of the Park

Last Updated: October 30, 2017 Contact Webmaster