—Don Bills, Flagstaff Chapter President
On Thursday January, 26, the Flagstaff Chapter co-hosted the Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer (Hydrogeology Division, GSA). The Speaker was Dr. Ed Harvey, new Director of the Water Resources Division for the National Park Service.
Dr. Harvey provided an excellent overview of some of the challenges and opportunities of doing science in the parks, water science in particular, with limited staff and funding.
Almost every park has a reserved water right that is critical to its operations. With over 400 parks in the NPS system, the NPS has a staff of only 47 hydrologists and 37 of those in the NPS-WRD responsible for water resources management in ALL 400+ park units. There are an additional 2,200 park employees in natural resources programs and all are expected to maintain several collateral duties and positions as scientists and resource managers for multiple and sometimes for competing natural resource programs including water. A park’s water resources often extends beyond its boundaries adding additional complexity and challenges to effective management. This provides the NPS with ample opportunities to partner with a broad group of water interests to address park related legal, political, socioeconomic, and cultural issues.