We implemented an integrated ecological assessment using a GIS-based decision support system model for Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (UPDE) and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA)—national park units with the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Our assessment examined a variety of aquatic and terrestrial indicators of ecosystem components that reflect the parks’ conservation purpose and reference condition. Our assessment compared these indicators to ecological thresholds to determine the condition of park watersheds. Selected indicators included chemical and physical measures of water quality, biologic indicators of water quality, and landscape condition measures. For the chemical and physical measures of water quality, we used a water quality index and each of its nine components to assess the condition of water quality in each watershed. For biologic measures of water quality, we used the Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera aquatic macroinvertebrate index and, secondarily, the Hilsenhoff aquatic macroinvertebrate index. Finally, for the landscape condition measures of our model, we used percent forest and percent impervious surface. Based on our overall assessment, UPDE and DEWA watersheds had an ecological assessment score of 0.433 on a −1 to 1 fuzzy logic scale. This score indicates that, in general, the natural resource condition within watersheds at these parks is healthy or ecologically unimpaired; however, we had only partial data for many of our indicators. Our model is iterative and new data may be incorporated as they become available. These natural parks are located within a rapidly urbanizing landscape—we recommend that natural resource managers remain vigilant to surrounding land uses that may adversely affect natural resources within the parks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change