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Badlands National Park Air Quality Information


Bison in Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Monument was authorized in 1929 in recognition of the remarkable geomorphology and abundant fossils in southwestern South Dakota. The monument and additional acreage were officially designated as Badlands National Park (NP) in 1978. Because the monument included more than 5000 acres of wilderness in 1977, Badlands NP is a Class I air quality area. The most prominent feature of Badlands NP is the dramatic scenery that can be observed throughout the park. The dominant vegetation of the park is mixed-grass prairie. Trees are relatively uncommon on a large scale but are locally common in areas of higher soil moisture.

Badlands NP is located in a rural part of the country. Nevertheless, sources and source areas of particular concern include point and area sources in Rapid City, South Dakota, oil and gas development in northwest Wyoming, and a proposed railway line near the southwestern border of the park (the western border of the Badlands Wilderness Area). The park could also be affected by more distant sources in neighboring states.

The National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network (NADP/NTN) site at Cottonwood (site #SD08; approximately 20 km northeast of Badlands NP) is used to represent wet deposition at the park. Data are available for this location since 1983. The data show wet deposition of hydrogen ion (acidity), nitrate, sulfate, and ammonium are relatively low. There are no obvious trends in wet sulfate concentration or deposition, wet nitrate concentration, or wet ammonium concentration. There are increasing trends in wet nitrate and wet ammonium deposition (deposition is a function of the amount of precipitation, so these trends could be due to increased precipitation at the monitoring site). The Cottonwood NADP/NTN data indicate that Badlands NP is a relatively clean site and that there is no apparent threat from acidic deposition at the present time.

Representative dry deposition data are not available for the park.

Surface water chemistry data have been collected in and near Badlands NP. These data indicate park surface waters are well buffered against acid inputs.

Ozone was monitored at Badlands NP from 1988 to 1992 (site #460711001442011). The data indicated ozone concentrations, at that time, were not high enough to either exceed the human health-based primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard or injure ozone-sensitive vegetation. Ozone monitoring was re-initiated at the park in August 2003.

While ozone-sensitive species occur in Badlands NP (e.g., Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)), plants in the park have not been evaluated for ozone injury.

As part of the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network, visual air quality in Badlands NP has been monitored using an aerosol sampler (March 1988 through the present), transmissometer (January 1988 through the present), and 35mm camera (August 1987 through March 1995). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Regional Haze regulations require improving visibility in Class I air quality areas on both the best visibility and the worst visibility days. 1990-1999 trend data indicate visibility at Badlands NP is improving on days with both the best and worst visibility.

Additional information on in-park emissions at Badlands NP is available in 2000 Air Emissions Inventory-Badlands National Park, (February 2003).

Additional information relative to air quality and air quality related values at Badlands NP is available in D.L. Peterson, T.J. Sullivan, J.M. Eilers, S. Brace, D. Horner, K. Savig and D. Morse. 1998. Assessment of Air Quality and Air Pollutant Impacts in National Parks of the Rocky Mountains and Northern Great Plains. Technical Report NPS D-657. National Park Service. Denver, CO.

updated on 05/07/2008  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/Permits/aris/BADL/index.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster