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National Park Service Water Quality Partnership

Since 1998, USGS has worked in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct studies aimed at providing data and information that will assist the NPS in addressing high-priority water-quality issues of concern.

New projects are proposed each year by USGS scientists working in collaboration with NPS staff in specific parks. Project selection is highly competitive, with an average of only 8 new projects funded each year out of about 50 proposals submitted. 

Below are highlights of FY19 accomplishments and planned activities for FY20:

  • The Partnership completed 8 projects in 11 National Parks. Completed projects included assessment of cyanotoxins in Voyageurs National Park, molecular source tracking in Congaree National Park, and mapping optimal restoration sites for Greenback and Colorado River cutthroat trout in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Six publications were completed, including two reports on Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, one on mercury methylation and bioaccumulation and one on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • Seven projects selected for work in FY20. Three of these focus on harmful algal blooms in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Buffalo National River. The Buffalo National River project will use innovative remote sensing methods for detecting, mapping, and monitoring bottom-attached (benthic) algae from unoccupied aircraft systems and satellites.

Stakeholder Quotes

Today, collaboration between NPS and USGS involves hundreds of science and resource management projects in the parks. Collectively, this collaboration helps to inform managers and the public about the condition of park resources and the science needed to support informed decision-making. The interagency cooperation and sharing of new and state-of-the-art technologies have enabled evaluation and study of parks and their resources that could never be contemplated when NPS was founded in 1916.

Vince Santucci, NPS, during a recent special issue of the George Wright Forum on USGS science contributions to the NPS

Photo of a USGS hydrologist taking an in-stream measurement in Sequoia National Park
A USGS hydrologist takes an in-stream measurement in Sequoia National Park.