Revisiting Leopold: Resource Stewardship in the National Parks

National Park System Advisory Board Science Committee

Updated Natural Resource Stewardship and Science


The National Park System Advisory Board and its Science Committee report entitled Revisiting Leopold: Resource Stewardship in the National Parks.

The Leopold Report (officially Wildlife Management in the National Parks) was published in 1963. Its influence upon the philosophy, policies, and persons of the National Park Service has far exceeded that of numerous other studies, commission reports, advisory documents, and other attempts to guide and direct the NPS. Much has changed since 1963, and the present-day Science Committee was charged to revisit the Leopold Report.

From the report

Specifically, the Science Committee looked at three critical questions:

  1. What should be the goals of resource management in the National Park System?
  2. What policies for resource management are necessary to achieve these goals?
  3. What actions are required to implement these policies?

And while the Leopold Report focused on wildlife management, the Science Committee with enlarging the scope of concern included all natural and cultural resources for which the National Park Service has, as the current report notes, “an enduring responsibility.”

Committee members met in several national parks and in Washington, DC. They consulted experts and familiarized themselves with a wide range of documents, background papers, scientific studies, and other materials relevant to the task. The final report has the full endorsement of all members of the Science Committee and the NPS Advisory Board.

The report strives to provide general and conceptual answers to the questions posed to the Committee. Given the broad topic of park resources and the variety of situations facing National Park Service managers, general principles and guidance are emphasized rather than specific solutions to technical problems of resource management. The suggestions in Revisiting Leopold are intended to advance park stewardship during a time of unrelenting change. Committee members feel there is both opportunity and urgency in their recommendations.


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