Still Great for now
Great Basin National Park has good air quality and some of the best night sky views in the country, but those assets are being threatened, according to a report from Center for the State of the Parks.
As a Class II area under the Clean Air Act, the park’s air quality isn’t as strictly protected as other parks with a Class I protection. There are currently four coal-fired power plants operating within 190 miles of its boundary, and others have been proposed. The pollutants—such as mercury, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogenoxides—released by them could contaminate the park’s lakes and streams, as well as reduce day and nighttime visibility, the report says.
The degree to which water and air quality is threatened by development in Southern Nevada is also uncertain. “Applications for groundwater extraction could threaten several water basins in the park,” the report states. “The park’s unique geology makes it difficult to predict how regional groundwater withdrawals could affect park ecosystems, but any decreases in flow of park streams and springs could have far-reaching adverse effects on Great Basin’s water-dependent biological and geological systems.”
Great Basin National Park, which is near Ely, is best known for being home to groves of bristlecone pine trees, the oldest living tree species on the planet, with some trees living 5,000 years. Read the full report at www.npca.org/stateoftheparks/great_basin/GRBA-Web.pdf