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Soil Resource Management in the National Parks

NPS soils photo NPS soils photo NPS soils photo NPS soils photo

Managing parks to preserve fundamental resources, processes, systems and values depends on sound soil resource management. The Soils Program helps parks secure and utilize the information needed to manage soil sustainability and to protect water quality, wetlands, vegetation communities, and wildlife habitats.

Detailed information about the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils in parks is essential for park resource management and protection, as well as providing park managers with the ability to predict the behavior of a soil under a variety of uses.

The National Park Service defines soil as the unconsolidated portion of the earth's crust modified through physical, chemical, and biotic processes into a medium capable of supporting plant growth.

The soil volume includes a mineral fraction derived from geologic materials from the earth's crust; an organic fraction consisting of living, dead, and decomposing organisms and organic residues; and pore space containing air and water in varying percentages.

Soil is three-dimensional, with layers (horizons) that vary in arrangement and thickness on different parts of the landscape. Soils are not static, but are in a dynamic equilibrium with the surrounding environment.


Featured Content

Soil Resources Inventory & Monitoring

NPS soils photo

Soil surveys conducted throughout lands under NPS stewardship provide a standardized, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources. Learn more...

National Cooperative Soil Survey Partners and Links

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The National Park Service works in close partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), state soil surveys, and several universities. Learn more...

Soils and Climate Change

NPS soils photo

Indirect effects of climate change include higher soil erosion rates, more invasive species, and changes in soil and vegetative relationships.Under construction

Featured Soil

NPS soils photo

Dig in and learn about one of the many wildland soils — an important part of our Nation's natural heritage — preserved in the National Park System. Learn more...

Soil Risks and Hazards

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Soils information can be used to identify areas of potental hazard to human life and property. Soil properties provide a basis for assessing risk, including those related to natural or human disturbances. Learn more [PDF 12 MB]...

NPS Soils Management Objectives

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Soil resources management objectives follow from the overall resource management objectives in NPS Management Objectives. Learn more...

Related Links

Key Contacts

Greg EckertGregory E. Eckert, PhD
Restoration Ecologist
Biological Resources Division
1201 Oakride Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Contact - Greg Eckert

Harold (Hal) PrangerHarold (Hal) Pranger
Geologic Features and Systems Branch Chief
Geologic Resources Division
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
(303) 969-2018 (office)
Contact - Hal Pranger

Geologic Resources Division Mailing Address
National Park Service
Geologic Resources Division
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, Colorado 80225-0287


Last Updated: December 30, 2016