Environmental factors: air, land and water
Among the rich diversity of plants and animals in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, there are other elements that are not so obvious but just as important. A whirlwind of airflow swirls around the nearby San Joaquin Valley and carries air pollution from human activity and industry into the parks. This affects visibility, people’s health and natural resources in the parks. Monitoring air quality in parks makes a difference by providing important data to inform the public of health risks on “bad air” days and to help state and federal agencies in their efforts to improve air quality. air quality.
In the past, the landscapes of these parks were regularly shaped by fire. The positive results have benefited both plants and animals, including encouraging plant regeneration, which in turn can benefit wildlife. After decades of fire suppression, the landscape has changed dramatically, but efforts have been made to once again allow the fire to resume its place as part of the Sierra Nevada’s natural cycle.
As the state’s population continues to grow and urban areas expand, so does the use of outdoor lighting. This has an environmental impact on the dark sky. Where once dark skies provided the perfect backdrop for distant stars and planets, now they shine brighter thanks to the lights of urban areas. By recording these changes and providing education, park staff can increase appreciation of the night sky and suggest ways we can all take a more active role in restoring a natural glow to our night sky.