Projects galore!

The National Park Service (NPS) and its collaborators are always working on projects of one kind or another. The Learning Center of the American Southwest hosts information about many of these projects, past and present, including information in the form of products. Browse all projects, or read on for more about the kinds of projects that are typically underway.

A dinosaur track is recorded as part of a geologic resources inventory in Rainbow Bridge NM


Natural resource inventories are extensive point-in-time surveys to document the presence/absence, location, or condition of resources (e.g. animals, plants, air, water, soil) in the parks. They are often conducted by NPS Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) programs and may involve both the compilation of existing information and the acquisition of new information. Inventories allow comparison of existing resource conditions to natural or desired conditions and establish a baseline for making scientifically sound management decisions and long-term monitoring plans to ensure the future health of the parks.

Monitoring macroinvertebrates in the Southern Colorado Plateau Network


Monitoring projects are designed to collect information about resources over time. The resources monitored by the NPS I&M program, termed ‘vital signs,’ are typically a subset of resources selected to represent the overall health or condition of park ecosystems that park managers are tasked with preserving “unimpaired for future generations.” Monitoring provides valuable information on long term trends in resource condition, the natural variability of resources and warns when abnormal conditions arise. Such information allows managers to make better-informed decisions and to work more effectively with other agencies and individuals for the benefit of park resources.

University students document education programs for younger students

Outreach & Education

Outreach & education projects are those that have been undertaken by students and/or that have outreach or education as a primary objective.

Taking sediment cores to determine historical vegetation conditions


Research projects tackle questions of interest that are not answered by inventory and monitoring projects. They may investigate resources, ecosystems, ecological processes, natural or human history, etc.

Volunteers help remove invasive buffelgrass to protect habitat at Saguaro NP

Resource Management

Management projects are usually some kind of effort to improve the condition of a resource. They are often undertaken based on information gathered through inventories or monitoring projects showing a resource to be in questionable or declining condition.