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Highlights and Accomplishments

In 2003, the Natural Resource Program Center, now the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science directorate, began assessing the condition of watersheds in ocean and Great Lakes parks to help managers better understand and conserve their resources. These assessments measure the status of marine, estuarine, and Great Lakes natural resources and identify threats to watershed health. Assessments have been completed in 32 coastal and Great Lakes parks with 15 others underway.

In 2008, the NRPC began a service-wide program to coordinate mapping of submerged habitats in ocean and Great Lakes parks. Geospatial information describing underwater habitats and the distribution and abundance of marine plants and animals is critical to understanding and improving the condition of ocean and coastal parks.

The NRPC has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on pilot benthic mapping projects in five ocean and coastal parks. The NRPC is leading efforts with USGS to address critical science and management needs related to storm hazards and coastal vulnerability, storm recovery and mitigation of coastal infrastructure impacts on shoreline processes and park resources. USGS and NPS are conducting storm hazard assessments and developing an inventory of engineering structures that have altered coastal processes. The NRPC is creating a prototype post-storm recovery plan at Cape Lookout National Seashore to help parks protect resources while addressing damaged infrastructure, visitation, debris removal, road clearing or rebuilding, and educating park visitors about storm dynamics. Resource Advisors have also been trained to join post-storm Incident Management Teams.

"No-take" marine reserves have been established in Dry Tortugas National Park and two Virgin Islands national parks to protect fragile coral reef ecosystems and restore depleted fishery resources. NRPC collaborated with USGS and other partners to dedicate over $2 million in federal and state research funds to evaluate these ecosystems and measure the benefits of the new reserves.

The NRPC is restoring salt marsh habitats in five parks and is assisting 11 parks with preventing recreational impacts to sensitive aquatic habitats and wildlife via educational partnerships, outreach to boaters and the recreational community, and the use of mooring buoys, navigational aids, signs and maps.

Last Updated: December 20, 2011