Land Stewardship through Watershed Management: Perspectives for the 21st Century

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The Order builds on the direction set in Policy Memorandum See also Policy Memoranda , and In , A. Starker Leopold chaired a committee of scientists in preparing a report titled, Wildlife Management in the National Parks. Much has changed for the NPS since the s. The number and types of units in the System, and its overall size, have increased significantly.

The annual number of visitors has grown four-fold.

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Social, cultural, and demographic changes to American society have been profound. Climate change is creating and will continue to drive dynamic environmental shifts that affect natural and cultural resources, facilities, visitation patterns, and visitor experiences. Additional pressures such as biodiversity loss, invasive species, land use changes, and pollution are accelerating. New scientific information and new disciplines of science have expanded our understanding of natural and cultural systems, and revealed that much is still unknown about how these systems function.

The Report makes several important recommendations for advancing resource stewardship in the 21st century, noting:. The overarching goal of NPS resource management should be to steward NPS resources for continuous change that is not yet fully understood, in order to preserve ecological integrity and cultural and historical authenticity, provide visitors with transformative experiences, and form the core of a national conservation land- and seascape.

The purpose of this Order, and its companion Reference Manual RM , is to articulate and communicate policies and actions to support resource stewardship in the 21st century. The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the 499 ational [P]ark [S] ystem for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.

The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

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This Order provides policies that form a new framework for stewardship decision making within the NPS based upon the overarching resource stewardship goal described in section 3. The Order also defines new terms and concepts that will be used in this and future guidance. This Order is intended only to improve the internal management of the NPS, and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

The NPS defines resource stewardship as both an ethic of active responsibility to pass on the parks unimpaired to future generations as well as the application of the necessary expertise to meet this duty. The overarching goal of resource stewardship stewardship goal is to manage NPS resources in a context of continuous change that we do not fully understand, in order to:.

The stewardship goal will be achieved by incorporating it into NPS management and culture. This requires relying on science and scholarship for guidance in understanding novel conditions, threats, and risks to resources and identifying and evaluating management actions; exemplary resource management practices; collaboration with partners outside park boundaries; and open and inclusive communication with partners and the public. To achieve the stewardship goal, the NPS will:.

The following sections identify specific policies and actions necessary for implementing this stewardship goal in the 21st century. This Order does not explicitly address the transformative experiences component of the stewardship goal. Efforts in that regard are already underway, and can be found in Achieving Relevance in Our Second Century and future guidance.

Director's Order # Resource Stewardship for the 21st Century

To incorporate the stewardship goal into NPS management and culture, the Service will integrate natural and cultural resource management where beneficial to resource stewardship. This integration recognizes the impact of humans on their environment and the impact of a changing environment on humans. Although natural and cultural resource management have much in common, their separate and specific needs must also be recognized.


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Integrating resource stewardship requires coordination between natural and cultural resource programs. It also requires coordination within these programs where beneficial to resource stewardship. In addition, traditional ecological knowledge TEK can inform integrated resource stewardship. The NPS will take the following actions to integrate natural and cultural resource programs, functions, and funding mechanisms, where beneficial to resource stewardship:. Application of these strategies in resource management will be informed by scientific and scholarly research and TEK.

The NPS adopts the following operational definitions and will provide additional guidance in RM Resilience strategies may include managing for the persistence of current conditions, accommodating change, or managing towards desired new conditions. Resilience strategies may vary and desired conditions must be clearly identified. See Management Policies , chapter 4. For cultural resources, connectivity refers to the understanding of the larger thematic and geographic context for these resources and supporting historical and cultural integrity.

See Management Policies , chapter 5. Spatial scales to maintain connectivity may vary and desired conditions must be clearly identified. In addition, cultural connectivity goes beyond spatial considerations to include representation of cultures through time. Understanding the larger context for these resources requires partnerships with stakeholders to identify shared conservation values.

See Management Policies , section 1. For cultural resource management, life-cycle stewardship means managing resources, historic infrastructure, and the built environment for long-term preservation. The NPS will apply these strategies to resource management by taking the following actions:. NPS efforts to advance collaborative conservation need to be expanded to deal with 21st century conservation challenges.

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To achieve the stewardship goal, the NPS will adopt the precautionary principle and adaptive management as guiding strategies for resource management subject to all existing authorities. These strategies will promote science-based decisions, help deal with uncertainty, and promote a culture of learning.

Management decisions based on the precautionary principle may often require adaptive management. When such uncertainty exists, NPS managers will take actions that err on the side of caution to protect resources in accordance with existing authorities, including NPS obligations to prevent resource impairment and the decision-making criteria described in section 7 of this Order.


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  • Careful monitoring of these outcomes advances scientific understanding and helps adjust policies or operations as part of an iterative learning process. Adaptive management is a strategy for more effective decision making. Measures of successful adaptive management are how well it 1 helps meet environmental, social, and economic goals; 2 increases scientific knowledge; and 3 reduces tensions among stakeholders. The NPS will take the following actions to apply these strategies to resource management:. These criteria are not mutually exclusive and are often interdependent.

    Water Stewardship in the 21st Century

    The focus of each of these criteria will vary with the stage in the decision-making process and the particular decision being made. These criteria will be applied to management decisions using professional judgment [3] and incorporating the resource management concepts in sections of this Order. Sound science and scholarship is a body of knowledge that draws upon a broad and often interdisciplinary community of practitioners, both within and beyond the NPS.

    To ensure the three criteria are applied in the resource decision-making process, the NPS will:. The NPS will take the following actions to ensure that managers are able to apply the three criteria:. To further the stewardship goal and integrate it into the organizational culture, the NPS will update, strengthen, and maintain its workforce to diversify, modernize, and support new generations of scientists, scholars, resource managers, and superintendents. Enhancing and diversifying the workforce allows our national parks and programs to reflect the diversity of America.

    FAQ Policy. About this book We must enhance the effectiveness ofland stewardship and management of the world's natural resources to meet a growing global population's need for conservation, sustainable development, and use of land, water, and other natural resources. Show all. Show next xx. Read this book on SpringerLink. Recommended for you. Ffolliott Malchus B.

    Baker Carelton B. Edminster Madelyn C. Dillon Karen L.