National Park Service

Rocky Mountain I&M Network


High elevation wetland in the Rocky Mountains
High elevation wetland in the Rocky Mountains.

Organization and Responsibilities

Preserving the unimpaired splendor of the national parks for the enjoyment of future generations is the fundamental purpose of the National Park Service. The safekeeping of the awe-inspiring natural wonders in our national parks requires the identification of their key components, including living things, natural processes, and landscape features. Natural resource inventories allow managers to account for park resources, such as the presence and distribution of plants, animals, and nonliving resources such as water, landforms, and climate in the parks. This type of baseline information is needed to make scientifically sound management decisions that ensure the future health of the parks.

Inventory efforts are being closely coordinated to ensure that they satisfy the following important criteria.

  • Inventories produce the "core" or baseline information that park managers need to effectively manage and protect park resources.
  • Inventories are being conducted in accordance with specified protocols and quality assurance standards.
  • Data obtained through the inventories are compatible, allowing for synthesis and analysis at broader levels.

Through the inventory process the National Park Service will begin to realize its potential as a major force in fundamental research on biological diversity, ecology, and conservation.

Current Status of the Initial Phase of the 12 Basic Natural Resource Inventories at Rocky Mountain Network ( 3.34 MB .pdf, last updated: 13 April 2015)

⇑ To Top of Page

Basic Natural Resource Inventories and Tools

The NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program has defined 12 core inventories (described in more detail below) needed to adequately manage national parks. To check the satus of individual Rocky Mountain Network inventories, go to the online Inventory Tracking search tool.

  1. Natural Resource Bibliography – was developed by the National Park Service (NPS) in order to catalog and manage natural resource-related information, concentrating primarily on reports, articles, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, gray literature, and other documents.
  2. Base Cartography Data – acquires, processes, and distributes GIS data that complement other inventory projects, as well as many GIS mapping and analysis projects throughout the Park Service.
  3. Air Quality Data – focuses on indicator pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act, such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter, visibility, mercury and acid deposition, etc.
  4. Air Quality Related Values – provides information on the types and amounts of air pollutants that cause harmful changes to resources on NPS lands, including: vegetation, soils, water, fish and wildlife, and visibility.
  5. Climate Inventory – provides access to climate data on NPS lands. Access to climate data, especially in light of climate change, is fundamental to our understanding of the status of ecosystems and species and their response to climate variability.
  6. Geologic Resources Inventory – provides more than 270 parks with a geologic scoping meeting, digital geologic map data, and a park-specific geologic report. This effort aims to raise awareness of geology and the role it plays in the environment, and to provide natural resource managers and staff, park planners, interpreters, researchers, and other NPS personnel with information that can help them make informed management decisions.
  7. Soil Resources Inventory – a scientific inventory of soil resources on NPS managed lands. The information is in sufficient detail for application by park managers, planners, engineers, and scientists to specific areas of concern.
  8. Water Body Location and Classification – the I&M Program and the NPS Water Resources Division (WRD) partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), states, and other federal agencies to create a high-resolution (1:24,000, 1:63,360 in Alaska ) National Hydrography Dataset for 8-digit hydrologic units/subbasins containing national park units.
  9. Baseline Water Quality – baseline physical, chemical, and biological water quality data that was collected, documented, and summarized from existing, readily-available, and digital water quality data collected in the vicinity of parks.
  10. Vegetation Inventory – works to classify, describe, and map detailed vegetation communities in more than 270 national park units across the United States.
  11. Species Lists – existing lists of species and associated evidence records (vouchers, scientific documents, and observation records that support the species occurrences) for vertebrates and vascular plants in more than 270 individual parks with significant natural resources.
  12. Species Occurrence and Distribution – service-wide compilation of reports and associated data sets (e.g., species lists with related attribute and spatial data). Reports document vertebrate or vascular plant species, and describe survey methods, species locations, associated habitat, observation details, and other attributes.

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster