Celebrating a Century of Partnerships in Parks: USGS, NPS, and 100 Years of Science.

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From the grand waterfalls in Yosemite to past presidents sculpted into stone at Mount Rushmore, American history is continuously preserved throughout our national parks.

From the grand waterfalls in Yosemite to past presidents sculpted into stone at Mount Rushmore, American history is continuously preserved throughout our national parks. On August 25, 2016 the National Park Service will enjoy a well-deserved slice from their 100th birthday cake! In fact, the whole Department of the Interior will be helping the NPS celebrate all year, starting today, August 25, 2015.

USGS Science in the Parks

The U.S. Geological Survey has been contributing to research and monitoring efforts in the parks since before each agency officially existed. The precursor to the USGS, the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, explored parts of Yellowstone National Park in 1876, predating both the USGS (founded in 1879) and the NPS (founded in 1916). The types of science the USGS conducts in the parks spans from pollinators all the way to natural hazards. To kick-off the year-long celebration with the National Park Service, the USGS will highlight its science in the parks in a new, on-going series 100 Years, 100 Science Stories. Keep reading for an insight into upcoming posts.

Natural Hazards

Fires, volcanoes and floods are just some of the hazards that the USGS studies in the parks. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which is not only located within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, it’s also right on the edge of an active volcano and is a real-time, ongoing USGS science and research project.

Image: The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Monitors Kilauea's Summit Eruption
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (foreground) is located on the caldera rim of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai'i—the most active volcano in the world. The observatory's location provides an excellent view of summit eruptive activity, which began in 2008.

Pollinators

Numerous pollinator initiatives are in motion across the country. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore used to be home to the Karner blue butterfly, a native pollinator that was listed as an endangered species in 1992. Scientists at the USGS surveyed federal parks along Lake Michigan in the late 1990s, finding more than 1,000 butterflies. Those numbers have been reduced to the point that only two were spotted last year. USGS scientists are at the forefront in aiding the rehabilitation of the Karner blue in the United States, providing key information and science to decision makers.

The Karner blue butterfly is a native pollinator that was listed as an endangered species in 1992. Recently this spring, there w
The Karner blue butterfly is a native pollinator that was listed as an endangered species in 1992. Recently this spring, there was no sign of the Karner blue at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which is where the Karner blue’s natural habitat is located.

Invasive Species

Scientists are hard at work, monitoring the spread of invasive species in parks across the nation. One particular invasive species, the Burmese python, is unfortunately making Everglades National Park its new home. Weighing in at upwards of 200 pounds and 20 feet in length, these large constricting snakes are now found throughout much of southern Florida. Tools, technology and information is gathered by researchers with the USGS Invasive Species Program in order to help decision makers assess, prevent, contain, control and manage invasive species throughout the nation.

Image: Biologists Remove Python from Everglades
This 16 1/2-foot python, being removed from the wild by USGS and NPS personnel, was captured in a thicket in Everglades National Park in May 2012. The python was equipped with a radio-transmitter and an accelerometer as part of one of the Burmese python projects led by USGS to learn more about the biology of the species to help in efforts to develop better control methods.

These are just a few of the types of stories we’ll be covering. Check back on our homepage regularly for all 100 Years, 100 Science Stories. The USGS will also be using Twitter and Facebook as platforms to celebrate science in the parks. Search for the hashtag #NPSCentennial to learn more about these efforts!

Explore, Learn… Be Inspired!

The National Park Service has introduced the ‘Find Your Park’ movement to inspire people of all ages to connect with, enjoy and support America’s parks. To learn more, visit FindYourPark.com or use #FindYourPark on social media.