Environmental Research Park
The varied wildlife and plant life of its high-desert terrain, and protection from outside intrusion, make INL an ideal location to study nature. INL land consists of flat to gently rolling, high-desert terrain that lies about 5,000 feet above sea level. About 94 percent of the land is undeveloped and is home to more than 269 vertebrate species, including 47 mammals, 210 birds, 11 reptiles and 1 amphibian. More than 400 species of plants have been identified. INL also provides essential habitat for several game species, such as pronghorn antelope, elk and sage grouse.
1. One of Seven DOE Environmental Research Parks
In 1975, 890 square miles of Idaho (about twice the size of Grand Teton National Park) was designated a National Environmental Research Park. This designation provides scientists a protected outdoor laboratory to answer questions about natural environmental systems and long-term human impacts.
2. Intact Sagebrush Communities
While sagebrush ecosystems have steeply declined, decades of restricted access to Idaho National Laboratory have provided a refuge for this vanishing resource.
3. A Great Place for Research
The Research Park is ideally suited for long-term ecological studies. Scientists also develop applied ecological engineering solutions to minimize environmental impacts of energy research and development.
4. A Fire-prone Ecosystem
Fire is a natural process in the sagebrush steppe and any given area can be expected to burn perhaps once a century.
After a fire, the landscape may seem barren, but many plant species of the sagebrush steppe quickly re-sprout. Researchers have learned that healthy plant communities return in good health.