Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
THE RESEARCH PROGRAM IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
MAKING AN INVENTORY OF OUR SCIENTIFIC ASSETS
By Dorr G. Yeager
In preparing this paper I am assuming that a scientific asset in a park is any feature which is of interest to the casual visitor as well as to the scientist. I believe, that a bear or a waterfall may be a scientific asset as well as a geological fault.
Now, as to an inventory of scientific assets — it seems to me that in order to better fit a ranger naturalist for his summer work it is necessary that we have a complete inventory of the floral, faunal, archeological, historical and geological features contained within our respective parks. The lists, especially of birds, animals and plants, are of vital importance to the lecturer and guide if he is to carry on a really presentable piece of work.
Again these lists are of vital importance to agencies within and without the park who attempt to carry on research. A mammologist or ornithologist coming into the park for the purpose of study, wastes no time in obtaining a list of the species contained therein, and it is of vital importance that these lists be made available.
I realize that in a park where no systematic work has been done along this line, it seems a tremendous task. It is, however, not as difficult as it may first appear. There are, naturally, two ways in which this information may be obtained. First, by interesting outside agencies in the problem and encouraging them to undertake a systematic study of the species, There are many scientists who would welcome the opportunity to work in this virgin field in many of the parks if only their subsistence could be paid. The second method of obtaining this information is by means of our own educational staff. I have found it very advantageous to interest members of the staff in this type of work. If men collect and observe in many sections of the park, and the results of their individual work compiled, a pretty representative list of species will be the result. We are constantly enlarging our lists in Yellowstone, due to the findings of the different ranger naturalists during the summer months.
In summation, therefore, let us emphasize the importance of complete lists of floral, faunal, and geological assets, both for our own use and for the use of visiting scientists. The compilation of such lists can be executed by interesting outside individuals and the ranger naturalists on our own staff.
An inventory of the natural assets of a park is important in order that they may be protected during the construction of park improvements and during current administration.
It was pointed out that ranger naturalists are often in a position to report upon the most important natural assets in the individual branches of science in which they are specialists.
The park naturalists should undertake the task of compiling a list of the natural features of his park in each branch of science. These lists can be added to as new features and new species are reported. The lists should be included in the Ranger Naturalist Information Manual in loose-leaf form so that additional information can be added from time to time.
Mr. A. Everett Wieslander, in charge of cover-type mapping for District #5, United States Forest Service, discussed the making of forest type maps in the national parks. This work was discussed in detail but is not presented in these minutes on account of its having been mimeographed at Educational and Forestry Field Headquarters and sent out to the individual parks.