The story of air pollution research, policy development, and management in national parks is a fascinating blend of cultural change, vision, interdisciplinary and interagency collaboration, and science-policy-management-stakeholder collaborations. Unable to ignore the loss of iconic vistas from regional haze and loss of fish from acid rain in the 1980s, the National Park Service (NPS) embraced an obligation to protect resources from threats originating outside park boundaries. Upholding the Organic Act requirement for parks to remain "unimpaired" for the enjoyment of future generations, and using the Clean Air Act statement that NPS has an “affirmative responsibility” to protect park resources, NPS has supported, and effectively used, research as a means to protect lands, waters, and vistas from a mostly unseen threat. Using visibility and atmospheric nitrogen deposition as examples, we will illustrate some success stories where NPS led the way to benefit not only parks, but the Nation.
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Protecting national parks from air pollution effects: Making sausage from science and policy