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Park Science

A Resource Management Bulletin

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Volume 15 -- Number 2 -- Spring 1995 (ISSN-0735-9462)
Integrating Research and Resource Management

= = = = Masthead = = = =


Roger G. Kennedy, Director

Michael Soukup, Associate Director, Natural Resources

Jeff Selleck, Editor
Editorial Board

* Ron Hiebert, Chief Scientist Midwest Region


Members

* Gary E. Davis, NBS Marine Research Scientist Channel Islands National Park

* John Dennis, Acting Deputy Associate Director, Natural Resources

* Jon Jarvis, Superintendent Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve

* Elizabeth Johnson, Chief, Research and Resource Planning Delaware Water Gap NRA
Park Science (ISSN-0735-9462) is a quarterly science and resource management bulletin that reports recent and ongoing natural and social science research, its implications for park planning and management, and its application in resource management. The bulletin is published in January, April, July, and October for distribution to interested parties. Please advise the editor of address changes.
The editor welcomes submissions of case studies, feature articles, highlights, and regional highlights. See Park Science 14(4):13 for submission criteria or contact the editor at:
National Park Service

Natural Resources Publication Office

P.O. Box 25287 (WASO-NRPO)

Denver, CO 80225-0287

Phone (303) 969-2147

E-mail: “jeff_selleck@nps.gov,” & NPS cc:Mail


= = = = Contents = = = =


Departments

(1) Editorial

(2) Regional Highlights

(3) Information Crossfile

(4) Meetings of Interest
Miscellaneous

(5) Regional Chief Scientists


Features

(6) Reopening a Niche at Badlands National Park: the Black-footed Ferret

(7) Yellowstone Computerizes Rare Animal Report System

(8) Report on the Ad Hoc Task Force on the Future of Natural Resource

Management in the National Park Service

(9) Late Triassic Dinosaur Tracks Reinterpreted at Gettysburg National

Military Park

(10) Capulin Volcano is Approximately 59,100 Years Old

(11) Pecos National Historical Park Mammal Survey Data Help Solve Hantavirus

Mystery


(12) Do Wetlands Regulations Help Protect Park Resources?

(13) Developing Natural Resource Bibliographies: a Servicewide Project

(14) Satellite Radiotelemetry and Bird Studies in National Parks and

Preserves

(15) The Hawksbill Turtles of Buck Island Reef National Monument: a Shared

Resource


(16) An Investigation of Sediment Sources Affecting Marine Resources at

Virgin Islands National Park

(17) NBS Science Centers: Networking a Key for Technical Assistance
In the Next Issue...
As fire season begins, look for an article on prescribed natural fire management in Glacier National Park and a fire history reconstruction study near Bandelier National Monument. We will also delve into the crossover area between natural and cultural resource management with an article that details the associations between rising and falling levels of Yellowstone Lake and Paleo-Indians. The second in our series on NBS science centers is presented next time and will be a profile on the Midcontinent Ecological Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. Also, vegetation mapping on a landscape scale in the Pacific Northwest, grouse in Acadia National Park, MAB notes, and a book review by Gerry Wright.

(1) = = = = Editorial = = = =


Backyard and Beyond
This issue takes us around the country (and around the globe) sampling research and resource management projects from Alaska, the Great Plains, the Virgin Islands, and Gulf Coast, to the eastern piedmont, the desert southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. In several instances the articles point to research applicability beyond the parks or demonstrate the strides we have made in forming partnerships, beyond our own agency. For example, satellite radiotelemetry studies (described in the article, “Satellite Radiotelemetry and Bird Studies in National Parks and Preserves”) revealed the impressive long-distance falcon migration link between Alaska, Russia, and Argentina. The research technique has worldwide utility and demonstrates the added complexity of preserving certain bird species that are shared international resources. The story on migratorial hawksbill sea turtles at Buck Island Reef National Monument in the Caribbean used similar research techniques, also relied on interagency cooperation, and makes very similar conclusions to the falcon story.
The lead article on ferret reintroduction to Badlands National Park can be viewed as a triumph in wildlife management where legislators, biologists and administrators from several state and federal agencies, and private conservation concerns rallied to return this Great Plains predator to the wild. But it also points out that, while varied, recovering species often has as much to do with bringing people together as using complex biological techniques.
Like the ferret article, others describe resource impacts and solutions that are tied to sources outside park boundaries. Water Resources Division Wetlands Program Leader Joel Wagner describes that at times external threats to water resources can be challenged by legislation designed to help us carry out our mission. Virgin Islands soil erosion and subsequent coral reef impacts are preventable, as researchers Lee MacDonald and Donald Anderson explain, but only with the involvement of islanders living outside the park. In each of these cases, research provides some answers, and the course to be taken in implementing the recommendations requires management skill.
On my mind is seeing the National Biological Service (NBS) succeed in providing us with high quality service. To this end, we begin a series of articles to help us understand how the NBS is organized and how to go about requesting technical assistance. This issue's introductory piece describing science centers in general will be followed next time, and every so often over the next couple of years, by individual science center profiles. The profiles will show the kinds of skills and park-relevant research conducted by the NBS and should help us make the appropriate new contacts for assistance. As a starting point, the science center list (Table 1 in the article “NBS Science Centers: Networking a Key for Technical Assistance”) may prove to be a useful reference in getting to know the available NBS products and services.
Rounding out the selections, paleontologist Vince Santucci sets the record straight on Gettysburg dinosaur tracks, a natural resource that has been misinterpreted for decades. Finally, while research is usually conducted in response to a particular need, its use is sometimes far greater than we could ever imagine. University of New Mexico Biologist Bob Parmenter relates a fascinating story about a connection between his baseline source study data collected at Pecos National Historical Park and the recent hantavirus epidemic. What begins in parks to find answers to management questions often takes us elsewhere.
Jeff

(2) = = = = Regional Highlights = = = =


Regional Highlights
North Atlantic
Morristown National Historical Park New Jersey, is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the National Park Foundation. The park will use the money to conduct its first herbaceous plant survey. Working under a principal investigator contracted through Rutgers University, Garden Club of America volunteers will undertake a systematic inventory of all herbaceous species found in the park. The information acquired from the inventory will assist the park in determining the effect that deer browsing and the spread of exotic species are having on its herbaceous plant population.
Midwest
The West Branch Wapsinonoc Creek, which flows through Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch Iowa, overflowed its banks several times during 1993. On August 16, the tributary damaged NPS facilities and property in one last, severe flood. At NPS request, the Iowa District of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Division conducted a flood risk analysis for the tributary through the historic site.
The analysis confirmed park vulnerability to periodic flooding. On August 16,1993, the worst day of flooding, the tributary flowed at a peak of 1,650 cfs (cubic feet per second), whereas the capacity of the tributary in the park is limited to 650 cfs. The reading corresponds to a flood frequency discharge of a 25- to 50- year event Several structures are at risk of flooding, especially the maintenance building, which could be flooded as often as every 10 years. Fortunately, the main floor elevations of the Hoover Library and birthplace cottage are above the 100-year flood elevations, although only by less than a foot.
This flood analysis demonstrates that the USGS is responsive to short-notice management needs for information that can be used in making informed management decisions. We hope that others will explore using their services in this capacity.
Reference
Einhellig, P.E. 1994. Flood analysis, West Branch Wapsinonoc Creek tributary, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch, Iowa. U.S. Geological Survey-Iowa District, Water Resources Division.
* * *
Bald eagles symbolize not only the United States of America, but also American environmental quality. Researchers recently developed a protocol for using the bald eagle as a Great Lakes air quality indicator species (Bowerman et al.). The Great Lakes Protection Fund provided grants to develop a protocol through two coordinated research and management studies: a broad, Great Lakes Basin study, and an intensive, localized study of northern Wisconsin.
The basinwide project assessed habitat quality, the role of environmental contaminants, and population dynamics of nesting bald eagles across the Great Lakes Basin. Researchers determined that bald eagles build nests primarily in white pines, except around Lake Erie where they use cottonwoods. Although potential nesting habitat exists along the shorelines of all the Great Lakes, it primarily exists along lakes Huron and Superior. Habitat availability, however, may limit the Lake Erie subpopulation, which has little unoccupied habitat and a high density of nesting eagles. Concentrations of p,p'-DDE or PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), but not mercury or selenium, were significantly (and inversely) correlated with regional reproduction and success rates. Concentrations of organochlorine compounds primarily regulate bald eagle reproduction levels along Great Lakes shorelines, whereas bird density-dependent factors regulate productivity in the relatively uncontaminated interior areas.
The intensive local study in northern Wisconsin assessed the role of food availability, weather, and contaminants on bald eagle productivity. Bald eagles nesting on the Lake Superior shoreline in Wisconsin experience significantly lower reproductive rates than those nesting more than 8 km (4.9 mi) inland from the Wisconsin lakeshore. The weight of evidence suggests that the most likely cause of lesser productivity on the Wisconsin Lake Superior shoreline is low food availability, with greatest effects measured in bald eagle pairs with two young; however, DDE remains a possible contributing factor.
The bald eagle biosentiel protocol appears to have great utility for organizations that wish to monitor ecosystem components, such as water quality. The state of Michigan has formally adopted the protocol to assess Great Lakes water quality. Later this yea, the National Park Service and other federal agencies may adopt the protocol, too.
Reference
Bowerman, W.W., M.W. Meyer, and J.P. Giesy. 1994 Use of bald eagles as ecosystem monitors of Great Lakes water quality: development of a biosentinel protocol. A companion report, to Great Lakes Protection Fund Final Reports for Grants # RE792-3092-1 and # RE792-3092-2
Western
Staff from the regional office and Redwood National Park presented a paper at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting held in San Francisco.
The paper, "Pool development and sediment loads, Redwood Creek, California," described a sequence of pool destruction and partial recovery in a river following catastrophic flooding and sedimentation. Pools are an important rearing and hiding habitat for salmonids, and population densities are associated with pool availability. This study documented the recovery of pools over several parts of the watershed for a 20-year period.
Mid-Atlantic
Both Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP) and Eisenhower National Historic Site (NHS) were established to honor and preserve significant historic events. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about these events, in part, due to management objectives adopted to maintain the historic landscapes of each area. However, staff now experience difficulty maintaining the agricultural character of these parks, because of significant and sometimes total crop losses caused by white-tailed deer feeding. In addition, deer browse on tree seedlings, which threatens the perpetuation of the historic woodlots.
Addressing these problems, park and regional staff released a draft environment impact statement late last November proposing white-tailed deer management The draft was completed after research documented the effects of deer browsing on the historical resources of the parks. According to the April 1994 mean population estimate, 853 deer occupied the 11-square-mile study area. The preferred alternative described in the environmental impact statement proposes reducing deer numbers to 80 by increasing hunting opportunities outside the parks and authorizing agents to shoot deer in the parks. The deer population would be maintained at or near this density by these methods. Reproductive intervention (i.e., contraception), when approved for deer population management, could also be used in the maintenance phase. The final statement, which should be completed this summer, will respond to any comments received. Management action could occur as early as October 1995.
* * *
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland, has completed a draft environmental assessment that evaluates the effects of implementing a program to manage the size of the feral horse population there. Feral horses impact park natural resources. The National Park Service proposes to implement a fertility control program that uses porcine zona pellucida immunocontraception. The horse population would be reduced to approximately 150 animals and would be maintained at these levels. Comments will be considered to determine whether to proceed with the proposed management alternative or prepare an environmental impact statement
* * *
A set of three technical reports by Virginia Tech investigators are available from Richmond National Battlefield Park, Virginia. Technical Report NPS/MARRICH/NRTR-94/059, Fire History and Fuel Loads of Upper Coastal Plain Forests, presents the results of a study that researched the history and influence of fire on the park, determined the loading of dead and down forest fuels in six forest cover types, and examined relationships between the fuels and the vegetation to create fuel load prediction equations. The park forest cover types are described in Technical Report NPS/MARRICH/NRTR-94/060. Included in this report are discussions of specific vegetation management recommendations for meeting park management objectives. The form and function of park forested wetlands are the subject of the third report, Technical Report NPS/MARRICH/NRTR-94/061. During 1992, researchers conducted an inventory to determine the extent of jurisdictional wetlands within the park. They mapped each wetland, inventoried its vegetation, described soil features, and measured average monthly water table depth.
The species composition and structure of plant communities for two forested areas in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania, are described in Technical Report NPS/MARHOFU/NRTR-94/062. Scientists measured trees, shrubs, seedlings, and ground cover from 1991-92; using 30 sampled 20 x 20 m (65.6 x 65.6 ft) plots in each historic stand. Fifteen of each set of 30 plots contain a central fenced 2 x 2 m (6.6 x 6.6 ft) subplot. The results of this study provide a profile of current conditions and background data for future long-term monitoring to determine the effects of feeding by white-tailed deer on forest regeneration. Similar plot systems are also in place at Gettysburg NMP and Valley Forge National Historical Park.
From 1984-86, researchers developed a multiparameter monitoring system emphasizing measurements, as opposed to ratings, and employed it in documenting and evaluating change in resource conditions on 179 river campsites within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania. Findings from this survey revealed some problems and resulted in a number of management recommendations with respect to minimizing resource impacts being offered and implemented. Research staff refined monitoring procedures through additional research and reapplied them in 1991. Jeffrey L. Marion presents results in Technical Report NPS/MARDEWA/NRTR-94/063 that show a substantial reduction in all resource impacts assessed by the campsite monitoring programs. In particular, the total area disturbed by camping declined 50% from 1986-91. The report offers additional recommendations and options for management consideration.
Natural Resources Report NPS/MAR/NRR-94/003 describes a case study of public involvement in scoping for environmental impact assessment The report presents the process used by Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS to obtain public comment regarding the intent to manage the white-tailed deer population in the parks. Managers chose to involve the public and obtain input in a number of ways, including the use of an informational meeting and a public meeting where they followed the nominal group process as opposed to the formal hearing format. The nominal group process involved soliciting comments from citizens using a structured small group technique in which participants of each group responded to a predefined nominal question. The result of the nominal group meetings was a series of prioritized lists of concerns.
* * *
Accelerated erosion, sedimentation, and associated water quality impacts are ongoing processes at Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia, that affect natural and cultural resources. Additionally, stormwater management problems result in concentrated runoff from parking lots and roadways in and near the park and cause very high rates of channel erosion in gullies and streams along the James and York Rivers. To study these problems, the park recently arranged for North Carolina State University School of Forest Resources to begin an erosion and sedimentation study. Under the cooperative agreement, the investigators will develop a methodology for erosion and sedimentation management, using GIS, to be tested at Colonial and later applied at several other national park system areas. The study should identify area sediment sources, assess erosion severity, and lead to reduction of both sedimentation and erosion in and near the park
Rocky Mountain
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated a new program to help prevent pollution from occurring in large geographic areas. A twist on the earlier agency focus of cleaning up polluted sites, the new program emphasizes prevention and is geared to foster healthy habitats and encourage ecosystem management. The new program led EPA staff in Denver to explore new ways of doing business with its partners on the Colorado Plateau.
More than a year ago the Denver EPA office, which was working in national parks teaching pollution prevention technique, suggested that we take a broader approach on the Colorado Plateau. Subsequently, the NPS Rocky Mountain Region and EPA Region 8 negotiated an interagency agreement that encourages a broader approach for defining and managing healthy, sustainable ecosystems. We signed the Colorado Plateau Ecosystem Partnership Project agreement in August 1994.
Plateau residents are concerned about socioeconomic changes occurring in their neighborhoods. Newcomers seeking alternative lifestyles have shifted demographic trends, and basic economic activities have shifted to service the increasing number of tourists and recreationists. The growth of small plateau communities has placed demands on the ecosystem that may alter its health. Ironically, the exquisite landscape may be harmed by the very people who have come to enjoy it.
Recently joining the NPS-EPA effort are the NBS Midcontinent Ecological Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the NBS Field Research Station in Flagstaff Arizona. Both organizations bring special expertise in helping to understand the dynamics of the Colorado Plateau. As part of the partnership, they will provide a clearinghouse function on existing data and conduct original research.
The Flagstaff personnel will help establish a framework to gather and disseminate data and information of use to all plateau researchers, residents, and managers. The clearinghouse function is needed because several plateau studies and inventories are underway simultaneously, often with groups unaware of near-duplicate efforts. Transferring data and sharing research findings is also an important component of the project. Staff will contact federal agency research and land managers, researchers in the academic community, tribes, communities, and individuals with plateau knowledge or project interest
The staff in Fort Collins will gather information and develop models to help understand changing demographics, political culture, institutional frameworks, and economics. Understanding how we interact and make decisions is critical in finding the best means to sustain an ecosystem and the local social and economic environment.
A third effort is underway toward that understanding. The Colorado Plateau Forum is a gestating effort to locate a nongovernmental or special interest voice to represent the whole Colorado Plateau. The forum was initiated by the Western Area Power Authority and quickly joined by representatives of the Grand Canyon Trust, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, tribes, local communities and governments, Northern Arizona University, the National Park Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The organization held a town hall meeting, endorsed and partially supported by the Colorado Plateau Ecosystem Partnership, in early March in Moab, Utah. Participants discussed regional commonalties, landscape changes, and the future of the Colorado Plateau.
The partnership continues to seek collaborators in the expanding effort to find broad solutions to what may seem like local problems. But as scientists have been saying since at least the 1930s, we must act locally while thinking globally in our efforts to understand nature's interconnections.
For more information on the Colorado Plateau Ecosystem Partnership Project contact Peggy Lipson or Bob Spude at the Office of Ecosystem and Strategic Management, Rocky Mountain Region, National Park Service, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, Denver, CO 80225
* * *
Yellowstone National Park in cooperation with the Montana Air Quality Bureau and the NPS Air Quality Division recently installed air monitoring equipment at the West Yellowstone park entrance station and in the neighboring town of West Yellowstone. The equipment helped to quantify air pollutant concentrations in these areas. Dispersion modeling using snowmobile exhaust emissions estimates and local weather conditions showed the potential for exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon monoxide (CO) near the park entrance and along park roadways during periods of high snowmobile traffic. The NAAQS for CO is 35 parts per million (ppm) for a 1-hour average or 9 ppm for an 8-hour average.


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