The National Park Service is currently in the process of assessing the condition of all parks with significant natural resources throughout the country. Rock Creek Park is one of the oldest National Parks in the U.S. (established in 1890) and is still a forest and wetland oasis in the heart of suburban Washington, D.C. This report uses air quality, water quality, biodiversity and ecosystem status data to assess the current condition of the three main habitat types within the park. Forests were assessed to be in fair condition, wetlands in good condition and artificial terrestrial habitats in poor condition. The report summarizes findings and links them to management implications as well as identifying major data gaps.
This new article in ISRN Ecology discusses how progress in achieving desired environmental outcomes needs to be rigorously measured and reported. Two major challenges in achieving this are how to synthesize monitoring data in a meaningful way at appropriate temporal and spatial scales, and how to present results in a framework that allows for effective communication to a variety of audiences. This paper presents a habitat framework, developed to assess the natural resource condition of Rock Creek Park (Washington DC), providing insight on how to improve future assessments. Vegetation and stream GIS layers were used to classify three dominant habitat types: Forest, Wetland, and Artificial-terrestrial. This approach has potential to provide assessment of resource condition for diverse ecosystems and provides a basis for addressing management questions across multiple spatial scales.
Marking a significant milestone in our ongoing partnership with the National Park Service National Capital Region Network (NCRN), IAN has completed Natural Resource Condition Assessments for the 11 NCRN park units in Virginia, Maryland, and District of Columbia. Natural Resource Condition Assessments evaluate and report on the natural resources within a park, and aim to provide science-based information to assist park managers in ongoing resource planning and decision-making. This partnership began in 2005, focusing on the communication of natural resources in the National Parks, and has evolved and continues to grow today. All completed NRCAs and accompanying products are available on IAN Press.