National Park Service

Southern Plains Network (SOPN)

Grasslands Vegetation and Fire Effects Monitoring

Mixed-grass prarie at Washita Battlefiled NHS
Mixed-grass prarie at Alibates Flint Quarries NM

Grassland Monitoring Briefs

Grassland Inventory Reports

Grassland Monitoring Reports

Grassland Monitoring Protocols & Procedures

For more information contact:
Tomye Folts-Zettner


Grassland vegetation is the most widespread vegetation type occurring in the Southern Plains Network (SOPN) and fire is one of the most influential disturbance processes in this ecosystem. Exotic species invasions, expanding row-crop agriculture, overgrazing, mineral exploration and establishment of woodlots and shelterbelts have all contributed to grassland degradation and loss of genetic diversity. Fire can influence vegetative succession and distribution, wildlife habitat, soil parameters, hydrology, water quality and air quality. Monitoring grassland vegetation communities and fire effects will help SOPN park managers better understand the dynamic nature of these ecosystems and the processes that control them. Monitoring will also provide an early warning of abnormal conditions, which will allow managers to make effective decisions for mitigation.

Network Park Units Where Grassland Vegetation and Fire Effects Will Be Monitored

  • Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Capulin Volcano National Monument
  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site
  • Fort Union National Monument
  • Lake Meredith NRA & Alibates Flint Quarries NM
  • Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park
  • Pecos National Historic Park
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
  • Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

Long-term Monitoring

SOPN has teamed with the Southern Plains Fire Group to carry out collaborative monitoring of permanent grassland transects in all SOPN parks. Each 50 meter transect is comprised of five nested 2x1 meter plots. During a transect visit, the field crew measures 1) species composition and cover in each plot, 2) surface type and cover in each plot, 3) shrub density within 10 meters of the transect center-point, 4) point-line intercept cover along the transect, and 5) primary production(biomass). Status and trends in species composition and community structure are examined in relation to environmental variables (ie., long-term management actions, climate and atmospheric deposition)

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: April 12, 2017 Contact Webmaster