National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Report NPS/SCBL/NRR 2018/1682 / NPS 317/146879, July 2018: xxi, 261 pages

Published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, Fort Collins, Colorado

Also available at:

Please cite this publication as:

Dibner, R. R., N. Korfanta, G. Beauvais, J. Bowler, K. Freedman, K. C. Trujillo, and V. H. Zero. 2018. Natural resource condition assessment: Scotts Bluff National Monument. Natural Resource Report NPS/SCBL/NRR—2018/1682. 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 Scotts Bluff 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.

Scotts Bluff NM was established in 1919. The purposes of the park include protecting and preserving the Mitchell Pass portion of the Oregon Trail and the geologic features of the bluffs.

The assessment for Scotts Bluff 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 Scotts Bluff 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, viewshed condition was of moderate concern and condition of night sky and soundscape warranted significant concern.

Supporting Environment—or physical environment—resources included air quality, surface water quality, geology, and paleontological resources. Air quality warranted moderate concern, and condition of surface water quality, geology, and paleontological resources warranted significant concern.

The natural resources that composed the Biological Integrity category included vegetation, birds, prairie dogs, and pollinators. Vegetation, prairie dogs, and pollinators were of moderate 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 Scotts Bluff 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).