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Mount Rainier National Park: Natural Resource Condition Assessment

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Author(s): Robert L. Hoffman, Andrea Woodward, Patricia Haggarty, Kurt Jenkins, Paul Griffin, Michael J. Adams, Joan Hagar, Tonnie Cummings, Dan Duriscoe, Karen Kopper, Jon L. Riedel, Lelaina Marin, Guillame S. Mauger, Karen Bumbaco, Jeremy S. Littell

Document Type: Natural Resource Report. NPS/MORA/NRR-2014/894
Publisher: National Park Service
Published Year: 2014
Pages: 350
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

Natural Resource Condition Assessments (NRCAs) evaluate current conditions for a suite of natural resources and indicators in national parks. NRCAs also report trends in resource condition (when possible), identify data gaps, and characterize level of confidence for findings. The resources and indicators emphasized depend on a park’s resource setting, status of resource stewardship planning and science in identifying priority indicators, and availability of data and expertise to assess condition of potential resources and indicators. Following the NRCA scoping workshop (2010), available data, reports, and references pertinent to each of 10 natural resource categories (air quality, water quality, climate change, landscape, wildlife, glaciers, riverine landforms, terrestrial vegetation, soundscapes, and night skies) were collected from MORA staff. Resource assessors determined how the condition of a resource could best be assessed and gathered references and documentation to support the metrics and reference conditions chosen to complete the assessment. 14 focal natural resources and their assessment categories were identified.

22 of the 28 natural resource categories for which disturbance-level and condition was assessed had signs of moderate to significant degradation, and 10 categories were estimated to be seriously disturbed (Nitrogen and Sulfur deposition; Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxics deposition; Lake Water Quality–Contaminants; Stream Water Quality–Temperature and Flow; Forest Health–Disturbance Regime; Whitebark Pine and White Pine Blister Rust; Amphibians–Species of Concern; Stream Fish–Endangered Species and Species of Concern; Land Birds–Species with Evidence of Decline; and Glaciers). Three resources (Biodiversity–Wetlands, Mammalian Carnivores, and Bats) lacked sufficient data to estimate disturbance or condition.

Although only 10 resource categories were assessed as seriously disturbed, many MORA resources are susceptible to disturbance due to anthropogenic sources, especially climate change. Climate change is a threat to aquatic ecosystems, with potential to degrade water quality due to changing precipitation and temperature regimes. MORA lake and stream water quality, including native biota, will be affected and potentially degraded by climate-induced stress. Direct and indirect effect of climate change on birds is expected, but predictability of specific effects is low due to complexity of interacting factors. Changing temperature and precipitation regimes are expected to affect distribution/structure of plant communities that provide food and cover for birds in MORA. Climate change is expected to affect bird species presence and distribution. Projections of change in spatial distribution and vulnerability of plant communities and species due to climate change agree that subalpine and alpine communities and species will decline or disappear, and wetland communities will be vulnerable. MORA may experience increases in area burned by wildfires and fire season will be longer, as summer temperatures are expected to increase and snowpacks decrease.

Four fundamental threats that currently (and will in the future) affect persistence and viability of natural resources of MORA were identified: climate change; atmospheric deposition of nutrients and pollutants; presence and emergence of pests and pathogens; and introduction and range expansion of non-native invasive and non-resident native plant and animal species.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Hoffman and others (2014) or (Hoffman et al., 2014)

References Citation:
Hoffman, R.L., A. Woodward, P. Haggarty, K. Jenkins, P. Griffin, M.J. Adams, J. Hagar, T. Cummings, D. Duriscoe, K. Kopper, J.L. Riedel, L. Marin, G.S. Mauger, K. Bumbaco, and J.S. Littell, 2014, Mount Rainier National Park: Natural Resource Condition Assessment: Natural Resource Report. NPS/MORA/NRR-2014/894, National Park Service, 350 p..