Klamath Network Water Quality Report (Phase II)
Section 5: Network-Wide Scoping, Identification, and Prioritization of Vital Signs for Aquatic Resource Monitoring
A. Purpose, Need, and Approach
The Klamath Network is in the process of developing a long-term water quality monitoring plan for its park units. Development of the water quality monitoring plan follows the guidance given in a May 2002 Memorandum to National Park Service Regional I&M Coordinators. The memo outlines the three-phase approach for developing a monitoring plan. Phase 1 of the network’s water resources and water quality assessment provides introductory and background resource and quality information for each park unit in the network. Phase 2 provides a more in-depth review of the aquatic resources and past water quality inventory, monitoring, and research activities in each park unit; and discusses the process of identifying and prioritizing specific “vital signs indicators” (i.e., indicators of ecosystem health) to be monitored as part of a long-term water quality monitoring program. Phase 3 details the steps required to implement an integrated longterm monitoring program including development of: (1) monitoring objectives for each priority vital sign; (2) sampling protocols and sampling designs; and (3) a plan for data management, analysis and reporting.
Water quality was identified during the Klamath Network’s general ecosystems vital signs scoping process as an important element of the overall health of the network’s diverse ecosystems. The network also identified the need for a working water quality subgroup of the Science Advisory Committee (SAC). The subgroup was given the task of making recommendations concerning water quality issues and implementing tasks that the committee considered significant. Their first assignment was to recommend additional Phase I basic water quality inventories for three network park units (LAVO, LABE, and ORCA) based upon a preliminary evaluation of existing water quality information and its currency by the National Park Service Water Resources Division. The second task for the subgroup was to develop and write a Phase I Water Quality Report. The network decided, based upon existing network expertise and available time, to produce the Phase I Report in-house, with technical assistance from the park units. The network did not identify the need to hold a separate water quality scoping and/or vital signs meeting to gather park-specific water quality information. Rather, the identification of general water quality vital signs was incorporated as one of the tasks of the Aquatic Group participating in the network’s third Vital Signs Workshop held May 4-6, 2004. The purpose of this workshop was to identify Level 1 and Level 2 Categories of the National Vital Signs Framework and to provide examples of vital signs and their measurement associated with these categories (see Table 12). A meeting focusing on identifying more specific water quality vital signs for each network park unit was completed on December 1, 2004.