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Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Southern Colorado Plateau Network.

Air Quality at Mesa Verde National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Mesa Verde NP in Colorado
Mesa Verde NP, Colorado

Most people who visit national parks expect clean air and clear views. However, Mesa Verde National Park (NP), Colorado, well known for its archeological remains of the Anasazi, lies downwind of polluted air from coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners region, nearby mining, and urban and industrial pollutants from the Southwest U.S., California, and Mexico. Pollutants emitted from these sources can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as vegetation, surface waters, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Mesa Verde National Park?

  • Levels of nitrogen in wet deposition are increasing and may harm sensitive ecosystems in the park. more »
  • High levels of airborne mercury deposit in park ecosystems, presenting a potential wildlife and human health concern. more »
  • Ground-level ozone concentrations are increasing and plant species known to be very sensitive to ozone are found in the park. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution sometimes cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, ozone, fine particles, haze, and dust to assess status and trends. more »
  • Evaluating the impacts of air pollution on park ecosystems. more »
  • Working with the Four Corners Air Quality Group, a group of state, federal, and local agencies, and tribes, to develop strategies to reduce regional air pollution and protect and restore park resources. Read about Clearing the Air in the Four Corners. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks. more »
  • Reducing the number of vehicles on the road to archaeological sites by using one of the first NPS-funded shuttle systems, and replacing these gasoline-powered trams with new alternative fuel vehicles. The park also utilizes other green technologies to reduce use of fossil fuels, including nearby solar voltaic panels, hydroelectric turbines, and passive heat/cooling system for new facility construction. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, ozone, and fine particles like dust affect resources such as streams, springs, soils, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Mesa Verde NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Mesa Verde NP.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016