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Arches National Park AQRV's

Arches National Park, Utah
Aquatic Resources
Surface waters in Arches NP are likely to be well-buffered and insensitive to acidic deposition because of an abundance of base cations in park soils and rocks. There has been concern that the park’s small pothole aquatic systems, because of their small size, might be sensitive to episodic inputs of acidic rainfall. A 1988 acidification experiment, however, concluded that sediments and suspended particles in the small rock pools tended to buffer introduced acidity rapidly. It was noted that most of the experimental systems were located on sandstone bedrock; rock pools located on bedrock, more resistant to weathering, could be more susceptible to acid inputs. Although they are not sensitive to acidification, these small potholes may be sensitive to nutrient enrichment from nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen enrichment may result in algae blooms and oxygen depletion, but no studies have been done to study these potential effects in the park.

While there have been no systematic studies, there is currently no information indicating that wildlife in Arches NP are being affected by air pollutants.

Night Skies
Dark night skies are considered an important air quality related value at Arches NP, possessing value as a cultural, scenic, natural, and scientific resource. Air pollution and poor quality outdoor lighting degrade night skies, lessening a viewer's ability to see stars and other astronomical objects, and altering the nocturnal scene. Use of high quality lighting that produces very little scattered light can greatly improve the night sky. Reduction of haze from air pollution can also improve the night sky.

Soils in Arches NP may be sensitive to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen compounds. In some areas of the country, elevated nitrogen deposition has been shown to alter soil nutrient cycling. No studies to assess potential nitrogen effects to soils have been conducted in the park, but studies are underway in Canyonlands NP to investigate nitrogen effects on soil dynamics, exotic plant invasiveness, and biological soil crusts.

Several species of vegetation in Arches NP are known to be sensitive to ozone, including Rhus glabra (smooth sumac), Robinia psuedoacacia (black locust), and Acer negundo (boxelder). Surveys have not been done in the park to evaluate ozone injury; however, estimates indicate that ozone concentrations and cumulative ozone doses are high enough to induce foliar injury to sensitive vegetation under certain conditions.

Vegetation in Arches NP may also be sensitive to nitrogen deposition. In some parts of the country, excess nitrogen deposition has resulted in changes in species composition and abundance; native plants adapted to nitrogen-poor conditions have been replaced by invasive and exotic species that are better able to utilize nitrogen.

Visibility is a sensitive AQRV at Arches NP. Visibility monitoring at nearby Canyonlands NP has documented frequent visibility impairment (haze) due to fine particle pollution in the area. Although visibility has been improving somewhat at Canyonlands NP, a number of parks on the Colorado Plateau show trends of worsening visibility.

updated on 12/11/2006  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/permits/aris/ARCH/aqrv.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster