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A Natural Resource Condition Assessment for Rocky Mountain National Park

January 1, 2010

We conducted a natural resource assessment of Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO) to provide a synthesis of existing scientific data and knowledge to address the current conditions for a subset of important park natural resources. The intent is for this report to help provide park resource managers with data and information, particularly in the form of spatially-explicit maps and GIS databases, about those natural resources and to place emerging issues within a local, regional, national, or global context. With an advisory team, we identified the following condition indicators that would be useful to assess the condition of the park:

Air and Climate: Condition of alpine lakes and atmospheric deposition

Water: Extent and connectivity of wetland and riparian areas

Biotic Integrity: Extent of exotic terrestrial plant species, extent of fish distributions, and extent of suitable beaver habitat

Landscapes: Extent and pattern of major ecological systems and natural landscapes connectivity

These indicators are summarized in the following pages. We also developed two maps of important issues for use by park managers: visitor use (thru accessibility modeling) and proportion of watersheds affected by beetle kill.

Based on our analysis, we believe that there is a high degree of concern for the following indicators: condition of alpine lakes; extent and connectivity of riparian/wetland areas; extent of exotic terrestrial plants (especially below 9,500’); extent of fish distributions; extent of suitable beaver habitat; and natural landscapes and connectivity. We found a low degree of concern for: the extent and pattern of major ecological systems.

The indicators and issues were also summarized by the 34 watershed units (HUC12) within the park. Generally, we found six watersheds to be in “pristine” condition: Black Canyon Creek, Comanche Creek, Middle Saint Vrain Creek, South Fork of the Cache la Poudre, Buchanan Creek, and East Inlet. Four watersheds were found to have strong restoration opportunities: Big Thompson River West, Cache la Poudre South, Colorado River North, and Onahu Creek. Ten watersheds were found to have substantial near-term issues: Aspen Brook, Big Thompson River West, Black Canyon Creek, Cabin Creek, Cache la Poudre South, Fall River, Hague Creek, La Poudre Pass Creek, North Fork Big Thompson (East), and Colorado River North.

Publication Year 2010
Title A Natural Resource Condition Assessment for Rocky Mountain National Park
Authors D.M. Theobald, Jill Baron, P. Newman, B. Noon, J. B. Norman, I. Leinwand, S.E. Linn, R. Sherer, K.E. Williams, M. Hartman
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Number NPS/NRPC/WRD/NRR—2010/228
Index ID 70118905
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse