What happened in the Rocky Mountain region in 2017?
That’s what the National Park Service has set out to answer.
The NPS is preparing a comprehensive, six-year plan that will include a new, comprehensive national inventory of the region’s terrain and natural features.
“In the next decade, we’re going to be able to provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of the landscape and its people,” said Bryce Benson, NPS manager for the Rocky Mountains.
Benson said the new inventory will include data on the number of people living in the region, including how many live in parks, how many are working, and how many recreational uses exist.
All of that information will help the park service better understand how the region has changed over time, he said.
“It’s not just about how the area changed, it’s also about what changed, and what’s going to change.”
Benson expects the new national inventory to provide a snapshot of the history of the area and will help planners determine how best to develop new and better parks.
“It will be a critical piece in our planning process to understand how we can take that information and transform it into new and enhanced park programs,” he said, adding that the new information will be part of a larger plan for the park system.
For example, the NPS will be able use its new inventory to help determine the future of the Grand Canyon, Benson said.
“We’re going forward to see how we are going to utilize the inventory to create new programs and opportunities for people.”
In the meantime, Benson hopes that the public’s participation will help make the park plan better.
He said that people are “a key part of our national treasure,” and he wants to ensure that their input is being used to shape the future.
“We want to make sure that we’re using the resources in our system, the resources that we have to manage our assets well, so that we can plan the best way for us to manage the landscape for future generations,” he told The Associated Press.