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Ecological Monitoring Station Proposed At Yellowstone

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 22 Nov 2014

By Laura Zuckerman(Reuters) - Yellowstone National Park could become a site for collecting massive amounts of data on climate and land-use changes and the effects of invasive species on the Northern Rocky Mountains under a proposal submitted for public comment on Friday.The plan for a so-called ecological monitoring station is part of a broader effort funded by the National Science Foundation that would see high-tech sensors installed at dozens of sites across the United States to collect data that would then be posted on the Internet and available to scientists and the public, Yellowstone National Park spokesman Al Nash said.The core site at the park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, for climate and other ecological data would be in place for 30 years if approved by Yellowstone managers after a public comment period that runs through Dec. 21.The monitoring program at the park, where the introduction of brown and rainbow trout for sportfishing have contributed to the decline of native cutthroat, would require the addition of electric service to an area east of Mammoth Hot Springs and a meteorological tower that would stand 20 feet above surrounding trees, Nash said.A small building would also be erected, and as many as 55 sampling plots with instruments would be established near the site in the northwest corner of the park, he said.The proposal comes as Yellowstone and other premier national parks in the West have been petitioned to approve technology upgrades that critics feel conflict with the U.S. park system's broader mission of preserving natural resources.Bart Melton, senior program manager with the Yellowstone office of the National Parks Conservation Association, said his group would ask the park to balance the drive to collect scientific data with the need to protect popular attractions like mountain views, geysers, and iconic wildlife like bison and grizzly bears.'At the end of the day, the more we know about how parks are changing because of climate and other factors, the better we will all be served. Yet we don't want to see the search for more accurate data have a negative impact on the park's resources,' he said.The proposal was made by the non-profit National Ecological Observatory Network Inc, which bills itself as a large-scale research project designed to track ecological change over time across the United States.(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)Join the conversation about this story
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