Institutionalizing an effective long-term monitoring program in the US National Park Service [chapter]

Steven G. Fancy, Robert E. Bennetts, Robert A. Gitzen, Joshua J. Millspaugh, Andrew B. Cooper, Daniel S. Licht
Design and Analysis of Long-term Ecological Monitoring Studies  
An overarching natural resource management objective for all of the parks is to pass the resources on to "future generations in a condition that is as good as, or better than, the conditions that exist today". To address this management objective, park managers and planners clearly need reliable scientific information about the condition and trends of the natural resources for their park. However, until recently almost all of the NPS workforce and budget was focused on traditional scenery and
more » ... urism management (Sellars 1997), with relatively little attention and funding given to science as a basis for resource management. The Natural Resource Challenge, initiated in 2000 (NPS 1999), resulted in increased funding and a commitment by the NPS leadership to strengthen resource preservation and restoration through strong, science-based programs. Although funding was allocated to an ecological monitoring program, development of this program faced significant challenges due to the relatively low funding level and the agency's decentralized organizational structure. Furthermore, the diversity of ecological systems included in the NPS (e.g., coral reefs, deserts, arctic tundra, prairie grasslands, caves, rivers, and tropical rainforests) made it difficult to design a monitoring program that would be relevant and effective to parks throughout the system. Despite these challenges, the NPS has successfully designed a long-term ecological monitoring program that continues to gain support and acceptance as a key component of natural resource stewardship. In this chapter we share some of the key lessons learned in designing, implementing, and institutionalizing a long-term monitoring program in a natural resource management agency. At one level, we emphasize the importance of these lessons for effective implementation of a scientifically credible program. We have effectively incorporated many of the statistical recommendations made throughout this volume into the design of the program; NPS has worked with statisticians and subject-matter experts to develop and disseminate more than 100 peerreviewed monitoring protocols applying a variety of statistical tools. However, we also provide a broader context. We emphasize that although sound statistical design and analytical approaches are an essential underpinning of the scientific credibility and reliability of any monitoring program, they are just one component of developing and institutionalizing an effective monitoring program.
doi:10.1017/cbo9781139022422.029 fatcat:l7f3tlbpqbecbhqeopie4yd4wa