Skip to Content

Rising to the Challenges of Climate Change

As human activity drives changes to our modern climate, we must address the challenges climate change brings to our parks. From the melting of glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park to the sea level rise near the Statue of Liberty National Monument, these effects are already threatening our parks and immediate investment is needed to mitigate impacts, boost resiliency, and preserve parks – from sea to shining sea.

Working in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), the National Park Foundation (NPF) supports programs and projects that help us understand the effects of climate change on our parks and work to mitigate these effects so we can continue to preserve these special places. Together, with partners, we are helping restore habitats to ensure ecosystem resiliency, implementing alternative energy solutions to reduce parks’ carbon footprints, installing recycling facilities to cut down on the waste sent to landfills, empowering parks and visitors everywhere to learn and act against these challenges, and so much more.

NPF's Work in This Space

NPF supports programs and projects that seek a scientific understanding of climate change's many impacts in parks, as well as those that combat these impacts.

Solar panels to the left of a one-level visitor center along the edge of a canyon
Area of Work
Resilience & Sustainability
Resilience & Sustainability
The preservation of our parks is central to NPF’s mission. Our Resilience & Sustainability programs directly address the need to mitigate the worst effects of climate change by accelerating NPS' goals to reduce energy, waste, and water to protect park resources.
Learn More about Resilience & Sustainability
  • A blue sky reflects on a still lake
    Conserving Water
    Fresh water is a vital limited resource that preserves park ecosystems. NPF’s Conserving Water program supports projects that reduce potable water use in parks, including retrofitting faucets and toilets, installing rainwater catchment systems, and more.
  • Recycling bins lined up next to each other
    Reducing Waste Sent to Landfills
    NPF works closely with NPS to fund critical waste diversion projects that help support NPS’ goal of diverting 75% of waste from landfills annually. Projects include infrastructure support, employee and visitor education, and enhancement of recycling and composting initiatives.
  • Sunset view of a path through a desert landscape
    Reducing Energy
    Investments in renewable and alternative energy projects are critical to cutting emissions, decreasing energy use, and improving reliability of energy infrastructure. NPF supports projects such as installing solar panels, investing in electric vehicles, and more.
Bison laying in a yellow field
Area of Work
Landscape & Wildlife Conservation
Landscape & Wildlife Conservation
NPF’s Landscape & Wildlife Conservation programs help safeguard some of the most biologically diverse and significant lands in our nation, supporting urgent priorities to preserve landscapes and the habitats and species within them, and increase resiliency in the face of climate change. The programs support scientific research across the National Park System that helps park scientists better understand how climate change impacts species and ecosystems.
Learn More about Landscape & Wildlife Conservation
  • An array of thin, tall trees
    Habitat Conservation
    Climate change, invasive species, habitat degradation, and ecosystem fragmentation are putting national park landscapes at risk. NPF’s Habitat Conservation program supports high priority ecosystem restoration, resiliency, and research projects to help ensure the biodiverse ecosystems in our parks remain vibrant.
  • A couple sea turtles paddle on the sand towards the water at sunset
    To stay resilient in the face of climate change and other threats to ecosystems, parks must carefully monitor wildlife and their habitats. NPF supports priority natural resource projects to help study and protect native species in a changing climate.
  • Arrowleaf Balsamroot around Antelope Flats, Grand Teton National Park
    Land Conservation
    NPF’s Land Conservation Program conserves lands in and around national parks, which can protect biodiversity and replace lost habitat. In addition, land conservation creates climate buffers around our most important landscapes and historical landmarks, while promoting more climate-equitable communities with equal access to recreation and nature.
A person scuba diving takes a picture of coral underwater
NPF Science Fellowship
NPF Science Fellowship
NPF's Science Fellowship program partners with NPS to enable postdoctoral students to conduct innovative science research in national parks, including studies related to climate change impacts to ensure that cutting-edge research is leveraged in national parks across the country to mitigate the effects of a rapidly changing climate.
Learn More about NPF Science Fellowship
  • A service corps crew, all in hardhats, walks along an elevated wooden platform through a wood
    Service Corps
    NPF works with national parks and other partner organizations to engage diverse youth and young adults to serve in teams on service corps crews, tackling top-priority projects such as the removal of invasive species, wildfire fuel management, and mitigation and resiliency, with some projects focused specifically on combatting climate change.
  • A student and a ranger crouch down to examine a sample, held in a plastic container
    Field Science
    NPF’s Field Science program encourages teachers to use parks as science classrooms to enhance student’s understanding of scientific concepts, including the effects of climate change.
  • Area of Work
    History and Culture
    NPF’s History and Culture programs are working to mitigate impacts of increasingly severe weather events and shifting landscapes on historic buildings, monuments, cultural resources, and the supporting communities who have been directly impacted and thus require new strategies for preservation and management.

Recent Projects

Explore just some of the projects supported by NPF that help preserve and rise to the challenge of a changing climate.

  • An aerial view of Duck Harbor shows a beach in Cape Cod Bay with brown dying and dead vegetation caused by the saltwater flowing into the area surrounded by the alive, green vegetation at higher elevations.
    Cape Cod National Seashore
    Restoring Coastal Wetlands
    NPF is supporting a large-scale wetland restoration project at Cape Cod National Seashore to restore the Herring River’s tidal flow, natural habitat, and ecosystem functions across 1,100 acres of coastal wetlands in and beyond park boundaries. In addition to benefiting wildlife, water quality, and nearby communities, wetland restoration projects like this serve as a powerful nature-based solution to climate change, given their ability to sequester and store large amounts of carbon.
  • A bay of visitor buses with cones directing visitors
    Zion National Park
    Supporting Electric Buses
    A grant from NPF helped Zion National Park fund the replacement of its entire shuttle bus fleet with new battery-electric buses, advancing the park’s sustainability efforts. Such energy conservation and renewable energy projects are helping parks accelerate climate change mitigation and reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Mammoth Cave National Park
    Helping Parks Reduce Waste
    NPF funded the purchase of a new forklift for Mammoth Cave National Park’s recycling program, aiding in the diversion of thousands of pounds of recyclable materials from local landfills. This initiative supports the protection of both the park’s aboveground and subsurface ecosystems, contributing to the maintenance of their delicate balance.
  • A harbor seal head pokes its head out of the water
    Kenai Fjords National Park
    Quantifying Seasonal Glacial Ice Used by Harbor Seals
    Thanks to NPF, scientists at Kenai Fjords National Park will explore the interactions between harbor seals and their fjord environments, a unique habitat that is rapidly changing due to climate change.
  • Sunset in the distance illuminates Joshua Trees and a desert landscape
    Joshua Tree National Park
    Advancing Park Sustainability and Accessibility
    A grant from NPF enabled Joshua Tree National Park to buy an electric vehicle and install a new charging port for the car to help reduce emissions at the park. Already, the car has enabled a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 70% reduction in energy usage compared with a gas-fueled car.
  • A gigantic reddish tree with a large burn scar and colorfully dressed people gathered in front of it on a sunny day.
    Yosemite National Park; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
    Protecting Giant Sequoias
    In recent years, up to 20% of the iconic large giant sequoias – the largest trees in the world – have experienced mortality due to climate-exacerbated high-severity wildfires, droughts, and attacks from bark beetles. A multi-year NPF grant is supporting the Giant Sequoia Adaptive Management Working Group, which includes scientists and managers who are collaboratively working on a landscape-scale management plan to ensure these unique trees can survive for generations to come.
  • A person wearing green surgical gloves holds up a mountain lion's paw
    Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
    Studying Mountain Lions' Response to Wildfires
    NPF funded a study on the resiliency of mountain lions to wildfire in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Due to climate change and an increase in human fire ignitions, wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense, which is detrimental to the park's habitat and species, including mountain lions. The study mapped the vegetation structures impacted by the wildfires and the effect that degradation of habitat had on mountain lion populations. The scientists discovered that large wildfires can cause mountain lions to more often take deadly risks in order to survive and reproduce.
  • Sandia Mountains in the distance, across a desert landscape
    Petroglyph National Monument
    Hydration Stations at Petroglyph
    Thanks to funding from NPF partner Hydro Flask, Petroglyph National Monument installed water refill stations on the patio of the Visitor Center and the restroom of Boca Negra Canyon. These stations will enhance the visitor experience and reduce plastic waste in the park.
  • Sunset over a tree-lined lake
    National Parks of Lake Superior
    Supporting Decarbonization of Lake Superior Units
    A 2022 NPF Strong Parks, Strong Communities grant to National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation will help the organization boost capacity, including bringing on a support staff and grant writer, all part of an the effort to develop a plan to fully decarbonize all five NPS units on Lake Superior.
  • Two people stand in an arid landscape and point toward the horizon
    Big Bend National Park
    Powering Panther Junction
    NPF granted funds to Big Bend Conservancy to support the installation of a solar array and shade structures covering parking areas at the Panther Junction Visitor Center at Big Bend National Park in Texas. The installation will be the park’s pilot solar program and will provide 100% of the energy needs of the visitor center and reduce costs for years to come.
  • snowshoe hare
    Isle Royale national Park
    Studying Camouflage Mismatch of Snowshoe Hares
    Isle Royale National Park is home to the longest predator-prey study on record. Snowshoe hares are a key piece of the island’s food web, which has experienced shifting dynamics and hares are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of a camouflage mismatch as snow seasons shorten. With the help of NPF funding, NPS and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are collecting data and analyzing various factors to help better understand the viability of snowshoe hare populations in the long term.
  • Nicodemus National Historical Park
    Protecting Park Communities
    A recent NPF grant enabled The Trust for Public Land to successfully purchase and donate a parcel of land within the Township of Nicodemus, Kansas to NPS that will serve as the location of Nicodemus National Historical Park's permanent visitor’s center and a tornado shelter for the residents of the town. As extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity, national park sites that preserve living history also shelter current communities from the storm.
  • Saguaro cactus
    Saguaro National Park
    Protecting Habitat for a Rare Desert Frog
    At Saguaro National Park, the lowland leopard frog is a desert-adapted amphibian that is increasingly at risk because of climate change and habitat loss. A three-year NPF funded restoration project engages local community and school group volunteers to remove fountain grass, which strains already limited water sources, and restore more climate-resilient native habitat for this rare desert frog. Once optimal habitat conditions return, the park will reintroduce leopard frogs back into three major canyon streams.

Related Stories

Underwater, a person wearing a scuba suit administers a balm on coral
Protecting Coral Reefs
Protecting Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are brimming with life. They make up less than 1% of the seafloor, but support 25% of all marine species. Coral reefs are facing unprecedented challenges including mass coral bleaching events and fewer, more weakened reefs from an onslaught of other threats, including an aggressive coral disease in the southeast. NPF is supporting coral projects across Southeast and Caribbean national parks, including Biscayne National Park, where NPF is funding coral rescues, disease treatments, outplantings of new coral and other restoration efforts all aimed at helping to bolster coral populations, and increase coral diversity and resilience.
Learn More about Protecting Coral Reefs
  • Moseley empties a compost bucket into the communal compost bin at Yosemite Village
    Waste Not, Want Not
    Part of the Subaru-funded Don’t Feed the Landfills Initiative, Yosemite National Park’s composting and fuel cylinder diversion and recycling programs have grown tremendously. Meet the person leading the charge.
  • Two people clean up a paved trail
    Cleaning Up Hawaii Volcanoes
    Throughout the summer of 2022, the Guardians of the Trails Youth Intern Program removed invasive plant species from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to protect native species and restore habitats. This project was made possible through REI Co-op's support of NPF’s Service Corps program.
  • Video
    Investing in Service Corps Projects
    In spring 2022, NPF was invited to participate in discussions about the role of parks in climate resiliency and environmental stewardship during the Aspen Ideas Climate event. As part of this, NPF announced a $4.1 million investment in service corps programs across the country, with many projects helping parks respond to the challenges of a changing climate.
  • Recycling trailer outside a one-story building
    Program Update
    Recycling at Wrangell - St. Elias
    NPF partnered with Tupperware to fund the development and creation of an innovative and strategic new park-wide recycling plan at Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in 2021, and the park continues to build on Tupperware’s investment as they execute the plan.
  • A person in safety gear looks out at a controlled burn
    Program Update
    Women of Fire
    National parks can face both structural fire and wildland fire within park boundaries. And while many women are interested in wildland fire management, less than 5% of fire management leadership positions are held by women at the park level. NPF, with support from REI Co-op, is helping NPS increase diversity within the ranks of the wildland fire workforce by funding new women’s fire corps crews.

NPS Resources

  • Field Science program collecting data in the a salt marsh
    NPS Article
    Understand the Science
    In all management efforts, NPS uses best-available science to inform their decision-making. Learn more about how NPS is thinking globally and acting locally.
  • A group of kids raise their hands in front of a historic mission
    Climate Questions
    There can be misunderstandings around the realities of climate change. Get answers to commonly asked climate questions.
  • Person standing in desert canyon recording data on a field tablet
    A Holistic Approach
    NPS's Strategy
    Successfully responding to climate change requires considering every facet of daily operations in parks. Explore NPS’s Climate Change Response Strategy.
  • A person plants flowers in a windowbox
    Take Positive Actions
    Mitigate the Cause at Home
    There are many actions we can take at home to lessen our greenhouse gas emissions, benefitting our parks as well as the people who enjoy them. Check out NPS's top tips.