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Conserving Natural Resources in the National Parks

FY 2011 Report to Congress

Download the Report

For a summary of selected accomplishments for this fiscal year, download Preserving America's Special Places: Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Program Highlights, Fiscal Year 2011 (PDF - 882KB). The full report (PDF - 5.7MB), which contains the same content as this website, is also available.

In August 2011 the National Park Service (NPS) launched A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement, a long-term strategy that marries the fundamental mission of the Service with short- and long-term resource stewardship. The Service has worked tirelessly to preserve parks since its establishment in 1916, but today's challenges require a new, cooperative strategy that takes advantage of state-of-the-art tools and technology. The strategic plan defines a vision for NPS preservation, conservation, and restoration and identifies actions that advance the Service toward that shared vision.

As the National Park Service approaches its second century, it will address four themes: connecting people to parks, advancing the education mission, preserving America's special places, and enhancing professional and organizational excellence. Attaining this vision requires increased partnership and citizen participation in all areas, including park science and stewardship. Natural resource programs across the National Park System continue to be critical to successfully achieving the Call to Action vision as well as the vision described in America's Great Outdoors.

For example, the NPS Migration Conservation Initiative is working with the national and international science community not only to identify migration corridors for species that make annual treks from breeding grounds to wintering areas but also to protect the very phenomenon of migration (Action 22: Scaling Up). The Inventory and Monitoring Program is developing "state of the park" reports to assess the overall status and condition of natural and cultural resources, park facilities, and visitor satisfaction. The reports will be used to help parks set priorities and communicate complex information about a park's condition to the public in a clear and simple way (Action 28: Park Pulse). The Natural Sounds and Night Skies Program is leading the way to protect natural darkness as a precious resource through development of a servicewide night sky inventory (Action 27: Starry, Starry Night).

Natural resource programs are able to take on such complex initiatives because of the solid foundation established by the Natural Resource Challenge ("the Challenge"). Launched in 1999, the Challenge made science-based management of natural resources a top priority, thereby preparing the Service to address 21st-century challenges. The Report to Congress describes natural resource activities across the National Park System in Fiscal Year 2011. By doing so, it responds to a request from Congress that the National Park Service report on Challenge-related expenditures and accomplishments.

Whether engaging youth and citizen scientists and discovering new species through biodiversity discovery events; preserving park resources and viewsheds while addressing alternative energy development; conserving North America's largest land mammal, the American bison; or protecting dark night skies and natural sounds, the National Park Service is taking action to ensure that the nation's natural and cultural heritage persist well into the future. This is not only the National Park Service's responsibility, but also the nation's gift to the American people and people of the world.

Measuring Progress

The National Park Service uses performance goals to measure the effectiveness of its programs. These goals are outlined in the Department of the Interior's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2011–2016, which was established in accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. Fiscal Year 2011 strategic plan targets and results are available in Budget Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Year 2013 (pages 16–17).

Last Updated: July 30, 2012