National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Report NPS/AGFO/NRR 2020/2074 / NPS 165/166789, February 2020

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Please cite this publication as:

Dibner, R. R., N. Korfanta, G. Beauvais, J. Bowler, K. Freedman, K. C. Trujillo, and V. H. Zero. 2020. Natural resource condition assessment: Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (February 2020 revision). Natural Resource Report NPS/AGFO/NRR—2020/2074. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.


Executive Summary

In collaboration with the National Park Service, the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database completed the Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) for Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (NM). The purpose of the NRCA is to provide park leaders and resource managers with information on resource conditions to support near-term planning and management, long-term strategic planning, and effective science communication to decision-makers and the public.

Agate Fossil Beds NM was authorized in 1965 and established in 1997. The purposes of the park include protecting the paleontological resources on the site and providing a center for paleontological research and fossil display; protecting, curating, and exhibiting the James H. Cook Red Cloud Native American collection; protecting and revealing the intersection between culture, landscape, and science; and preserving the short-grass prairie and Niobrara riparian ecosystems.

The assessment for Agate Fossil Beds NM began in 2015 with a facilitated discussion among park leadership and natural resource managers to identify high-priority natural resources and existing data with which to assess condition of those resources. Data were synthesized to evaluate each resource according to condition, trend in the condition, and confidence in the assessment. Natural resource conditions were the basis for a discussion with park leadership and natural resource managers, who then identified critical data gaps and management issues specific to Agate Fossil Beds NM. Resource experts, park staff, and network personnel reviewed this assessment.

Priority natural resources were grouped into three categories: Landscape Condition Context, Supporting Environment, and Biological Integrity.

The resources categorized as Landscape Condition Context included viewshed, night sky, and soundscape. At the time of this assessment, these resources were all in good condition.

Supporting Environment—or physical environment—resources included air quality, surface water quality, geology, and paleontological resources. Air quality, surface water quality, and geology were of moderate concern; the condition of paleontological resources was not available due to a lack of data on poaching and vandalism of fossils.

The natural resources that composed the Biological Integrity category included vegetation, birds, fish, and pollinators. Vegetation and pollinators resources were of moderate concern, fish condition had deteriorated substantially since the late 1980s and warranted significant concern. We were unable to assign a condition to birds in the absence of specific management goals.

This assessment includes a general background on the NRCA process (Chapter 1), an introduction to Agate Fossil Beds NM and the natural resources included in the assessment (Chapter 2), a description of methods (Chapter 3), condition assessments for 11 natural resources (Chapter 4), and a summary of findings accompanied by management considerations (Chapter 5).

Note: This report was first published in 2019, however, an error was noted in the report resulting in this revised version. The scope/nature of the revision includes: The sentence “In 2012, a request for assistance with northern pike removal and reintroduction of native fish was denied (Medley 2012)”—included on page 188 of the original report (section 4.10.1 Background and Importance)—has been removed.