2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


SOUKUP, Mike, Natural Resource Program Center, National Park Service, 1849 C St. NW (3127), Washington, DC 20240, mike_soukup@nps.gov

Two needs stand out as especially critical to effective cave and karst management: Broadening the appreciation for state-of-the-art science among decision makers and increasing their access to a wide range of science-based information. An important step towards building a wise stewardship program is development of an inventory and monitoring (I&M) network to gather and analyze resource condition and trend data. Documented knowledge of the resource followed by conscientious monitoring will allow managers to know whether they are managing in such a way that tomorrow’s generation will be able to experience the nation’s unspoiled natural heritage. Inventory and monitoring programs rely on knowledge of previously identified and potential resources to investigate. Published papers, file reports, and other communications by scientists inside and outside of agencies provide important information on resources to be included within an I&M program. The inventory data can then help guide managers towards reasoned stewardship policies. Equally critical to a baseline understanding through inventory is follow-up monitoring with critical analysis of the data to evaluate the results of management decisions and changing conditions. Responsible stewardship needs critical, science-based assessment to identify best practices and ensure against inadvertent impacts. While it is easy to demonstrate that public land facilities require billions of dollars to maintain, the urgency of investment needs and immediately tangible outcomes for natural resources is more difficult to appreciate. Law enforcement, U.S. border safety issues, and maintenance of buildings and roads are competing and pressing priorities. However, today’s public lands must be actively managed. The investment of scientists in pursuing project’s supporting the maintenance of our nation’s commitment to its heritage continues to grow.