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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park AQRV's

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Aquatic Resources
Most surface waters in Black Canyon NP are likely to be well-buffered and, as a result, insensitive to acidic atmospheric deposition because of an abundance of base cations in underlying park soils and rocks. However, studies currently underway have identified certain soils in the park that appear to be very sensitive to acidification; small potholes or other waterbodies on these soils may also be vulnerable to acidification. Small potholes may also be sensitive to nutrient enrichment from nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen enrichment may result in algae blooms and oxygen depletion, but no studies have been done to study these potential effects in the park.

While there have been no systematic studies, there is currently no information indicating that wildlife in Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP are being affected by air pollutants.

Night Skies
Dark night skies are considered an important air quality related value at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, possessing value as a cultural, scenic, natural, and scientific resource. Air pollution and poor quality outdoor lighting degrade night skies, lessening a viewer's ability to see stars and other astronomical objects, and altering the nocturnal scene. Use of high quality lighting that produces very little scattered light can greatly improve the night sky. Reduction of haze from air pollution can also improve the night sky.

Soils in Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP may be sensitive to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen compounds. In some areas of the country, elevated nitrogen deposition has been shown to alter soil nutrient cycling. Studies are underway in Canyonlands NP in Utah to investigate nitrogen effects on soil dynamics, exotic plant invasiveness, and biological soil crusts. Results from these studies may be applicable to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP.

Several plant species that occur in Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP are known to be sensitive to ozone, including Amelanchier alnifolia (serviceberry), Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine), and Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen). Surveys have not been done in the park to evaluate ozone injury; however, estimates indicate that ozone concentrations and cumulative ozone doses are high enough to induce foliar injury to sensitive vegetation under certain conditions.

Vegetation in Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP may also be sensitive to nitrogen deposition. In some parts of the country, excess nitrogen deposition has resulted in changes in species composition and abundance; native plants adapted to nitrogen-poor conditions have been replaced by invasive and exotic species that are better able to utilize nitrogen.

Visibility is a sensitive AQRV at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. Visibility throughout the Colorado Plateau is generally good; however, air pollution occasionally causes haze in the area.

updated on 12/11/2006  I   http://nature.nps.gov/air/permits/aris/BLCA/aqrv.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster