35832 – Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project

Investigator’s Annual Reports (IAR’s) for Crater Lake National Park

Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project


Report Number: 35832

Permit Number: CRLA-2005-SCI-0003

Current Status: Checked in

Date Received: Mar 17, 2006

Reporting Year: 2005

Principal Investigator: Dr Dixon Landers, Corvallis, OR

Additional investigator(s): Adrienne Marler, Annie Ingersoll, Dan Jaffe, Doug Glavich, Linda Geiser, Marilyn Erway, Staci Simonich, Tamara Blett

Park-assigned Study Id. # CRLA-00007

Permit Expiration Date: Dec 31, 2006

Permit Start Date: Jun 01, 2005

Study Starting Date: Jun 01, 2005

Study Ending Date: Dec 31, 2006

Study Status: Continuing

Activity Type: Research

Subject/Discipline: Ecology (Aquatic, Marine, Terrestrial)

Objectives: The Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project (WACAP) was designed and implemented by the National Park Service’s Air Resources Division, in cooperation with many western Parks, to provide spatially extensive, site specific, and temporally resolved information regarding the exposure, accumulation, and impacts of airborne contaminants in these ecosystems. WACAP was designed as a six-year program, with the first year for pilot work and method development, years two through five for sample collection and analyses, and year six for data analyses and publications. The purpose of this effort is to establish the degree of risk that western national parks may be experiencing from the long-range transport of airborne contaminants.

Specific WACAP Objectives are to:

  1. Determine if contaminants are present in Western National Parks
  2. If present, determine where contaminants are accumulating (geographically and by elevation)
  3. If present, determine which contaminants pose a potential ecological threat
  4. Determine which indicators appear to be the most useful to address contamination
  5. Determine the sources for contaminants measured at the national park sites

Eight national parks participate as primary parks in WACAP: Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Noatak, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, and Sequoia. A supplemental study was initiated in 2005 to assess the concentration of semi-volatile organic compounds (SOCs) in vegetation (lichens and conifer needles) in additional parks. Eleven parks and one national forest participated in this supplemental study: Bandelier, Big Bend, Crater Lake, Glacier Bay, Grand Teton, Great Sand Dunes, Katmai, Lassen, North Cascades, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Yosemite National Parks, and the Tongass National Forest. In addition, passive air sampling devices (PASDs) were co-located with a vegetation sampling site at each park. The data obtained by this additional vegetation sampling and the PASDs will create a broader spatial context for contaminants being assessed as part of WACAP in the eight other primary western parks that participate in the project. These results will also be used to make a recommendation to NPS on which passive air samplers (natural or man-made) are most appropriate for I&M of air toxics in future studies.

Detailed information about WACAP, including the WACAP Research Plan and peer review report, is available at http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/Studies/air_toxics/wacap.cfm. A peer review of the project was conducted in December 2002, and the final WACAP Research Plan was completed in May 2003. The contaminants of interest for the supplemental vegetation study are a broad range of compounds that contain a variety of SOCs and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), DDT, and HCH (hexachlorocyclohexanes). These materials are direct or indirect products of human industrial activity and can be transported thousands of miles in the atmosphere either in the gas phase or as fine particles.

A variety of ecosystem indicators are sampled in the eight primary parks in WACAP to provide information about contaminant accumulation. These indicators include:

  • Snow, to measure direct atmospheric loading;
  • Fish, to measure food web impacts and bioaccumulation;
  • Water, to measure hydrophilic current-use chemicals;
  • Lake sediments, to provide information about historic trends of contaminant loading to watersheds;
  • Vegetation, to measure food web impacts and bioaccumulation; and
  • Moose meat, to sample subsistence food items (other than fish) in Alaska parks.

Snow is sampled at each site each year for three years, while the other indicators are sampled once during the project. A final data base and report will be prepared that will provide information on the exposure, historic and seasonal trends, and bioaccumulation of airborne contaminants in these national parks.

Findings and Status:  Accomplishments for the Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project (WACAP) in 2005 include the continued development of sampling and analytical methods, the analysis of samples collected in 2003, 2004, and 2005, the collection of snow or bulk precipitation from eight national parks, the collection of vegetation from 11 national parks and one national forest, and the collection of fish, sediment, and lake water from two sites in Mt. Rainier National Park, two sites in Glacier National Park, and two sites in Olympic National Park.

Vegetation was sampled at 5 sites in Crater Lake NP at a range of elevation from 1798 to 2713 meters in August, 2005. Site #1 was west of the Lodgepole Picnic areas and just southeast of Bear Bluff, in a lodgepole pine stand at an elevation of 1798 meters. Site #2 was northwest of road 62 and northeast of Whitehorse Pond, in a mixed conifer stand (white fir, lodgepole pine, and mountain hemlock) at an elevation of 1859 meters. The ground was rocky with a ground cover dominated by bearberry manzanita and grouse huckleberry. The lichen community was dominated by mixed Bryoria species with some Alectoria and Letharia. Site #3 was on a meadow bench just off the Lightning Springs trail, west of Rim Drive, at an elevation of 2134 meters. This site was in a meadow with clumps of old Shasta fir and mountain hemlock, and the ground was sandy, with dry soil covered mostly with grass and buckwheat. Site #4 was on the southwest side of Mt. Scott, approximately 1.6 kilometers up the Mt. Scott trail at an elevation of 2423 meters. This site was in a whitebark pine stand with some mountain hemlock and red fir. The slope was steep and rocky with very little vegetation. The lichens were mostly mixed Bryoria and Letharia species. Site #5 was at the top of Mt. Scott on the northeast side of the fire lookout at an elevation of 2713 meters. This site was on a gently sloping rocky summit ridge vegetated by clumps of small whitebark pine and some high elevation herbs (pasque flower, paintbrush, penstemon and bunch grasses). No lichens were found here.

Six conifer needle samples from second year growth were collected, with sample weights of 100 grams. Five lichen samples were collected, with weights ranging from 15 to 52 grams. The following species were collected:

  • conifer needles of Abies magnifica from sites #1, and #3;
  • conifer needles of Abies concolor from site #2;
  • conifer needles of Pinus albicaulis from sites #4 and #5; and
  • Letharia vulpina lichen from sites #1, #2, #3, and #4

These vegetation samples were stored in labeled bags and shipped in coolers to the analytical laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon after collection, where they were stored at -20° C. Work is continuing on these samples as they are being prepared for analysis of semi-volatile organic compounds.

One passive air sampler was installed on August 17, 2005, at Site #5 at an elevation of 2713 meters. The resin tube in this sampler has a consistent uptake rate for air toxics, and after one year at the site, the sampler will be retrieved and the resins extracted for analysis of semi-volatile organic compounds.

Please note that the funding amounts reported with this IAR are the total amounts provided by NPS for the WACAP project at all 19 national parks in 2005.

For this study, were one or more specimens collected and removed from the park but not destroyed during analyses? Yes

Funding provided this reporting year by NPS: 1010715

Funding provided this reporting year by other sources: 448160

Full name of college or university:  Oregon State University, University of Washington-Bothell

Annual funding provided by NPS to university or college this reporting year: 494667


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