National Capital Parks-East Natural Resource Condition Assessment
The National Capital Parks–East (NACE) provides a natural haven for the urbanized Washington, D.C., area. NACE includes 14 major park areas that comprise more than 8,000 acres of the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, through the eastern part of Washington, D.C., to Prince George’s and Charles counties, Maryland. In addition to numerous historic and cultural sites, these NPS units protect natural areas for recreation, parkways, historical artifacts and structures, archaeological sites, wetlands, stream valleys, forests, wildlife, and vegetation. The natural areas within National Capital Parks-East are extremely rich both in biodiversity and in historical context. The park provides islands of refuge for many uncommon plant and animal species in the highly urbanized Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, protecting a variety of cultural and natural resources. Additionally, NACE provides opportunities for the public to foster awareness of the importance of species preservation, biological diversity, natural systems and processes, and the value of natural open space in an urban environment.
Under threat from surrounding land use and regionally poor air quality, the natural resources in NACE are in degraded condition overall. Climate change is predicted to negatively affect many of the natural resources of the park, including increasing ozone levels and particle pollution, raising water temperature, changing forest composition, and affecting exotic species and forest pests and disease.