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Spotlight on National Park Resources in the National Capital Region

To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial through talks and posters that highlight accomplishments in resources management and stewardship. The 2016 Spotlight featured contributions from every park in the region.

Morning Session A

9:00 - Welcome

9:15  Presence of Ranavirus and Chytrid Pathogens among Amphibians

9:30 - Bullets, Shrapnel, Case, and Canister: Archeology and GIS at the Piper Farm

9:45 - Surveys of Native and Introduced Bees of the Woodlands of the Mid-Atlantic

10:00 - Integrating Cultural Resource Preservation Priorities at a Landscape Scale: Introduction to the collaborative research program being sponsored jointly by the NPS and Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Morning Session B

10:30 - New Sampling Design Reveals Hotspots for Brook Trout Recruitment in Catoctin Mountain Park

10:45 - Our Collections at Risk: Climate Change Threats to NCR Museum Property

11:00 - Determining the Appropriate Unit of Management Among Brook Trout Populations Exhibiting Prodigious Neutral Genetic Differentiation and Cryptic Metapopulations in the Chesapeake Bay Drainages with Emphasis on Catoctin Mountain Park

11:15 - Gone but not Forgotten: Storer College

Afternoon Session A

1:15 - Joint Influence of Deer Management and an Invasive Grass on Tree Seedling Establishment at Catoctin Mountain Park

1:30 - Movement and Gathering Across Time: A Preliminary Report on the Potomac River Gorge Environmental History and Historic Resource Study Project

1:45 - Predictions of Coastal Vegetation Change Associated with Sea Level Rise

2:00 - National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Archeology Contributions: Successes (and Shortcomings) in Unexpected Situations at Two Historic Sites of the George Washington Memorial Parkway

Afternoon Session B

2:30 - Sediment and Vegetation trends at Dyke Marsh Preserve and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

2:45 - Subsistence Fishing, Ethnographic Resource Study

3:00 - Inventory of Rare Groundwater Invertebrates and Their Habitats in National Capital Parks East Parks

3:15 - Proximity to Power: How the Preservation of Lafayette Square Paved the Way for the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966

3:30 - Closing Remarks

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Check out all the Posters that were also presented during the NPS Spotlight


PRESENTATIONS:

Welcoming Statement

Robert Vogel, Regional Director, NPS National Capital Region

Natural and cultural resources are fundamental to our national parks, so it is essential that we work together to understand these resources and to preserve and protect them. As we celebrate our centennial, let us also celebrate the 8th biennial Spotlight!

 

Presence of Ranavirus and Chytrid Pathogens among Amphibians

Christine Densmore - Veterinary Medical Officer, U.S. Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center.

Amphibians are excellent indicators of ecosystem health and represent important management targets  for National Parks and Refuges. Objectives of this study were to determine the presence of the amphibian pathogens, Ranavirus and Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, in Catoctin Mountain Park, to determine whether overt disease occurs among amphibians related to these pathogens, and to identify potential environmental variables  (i.e. contaminants) correlated with either pathogen. In 2014, ten stream and five pond sites were sampled for pathogens and contaminants. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was identified in larval amphibians collected from two pond sites, and Ranavirus was identified in specimens collected from four pond sites and one stream site. No evidence of concurrent disease was observed at any site. Eight pesticides were detected in the tissue samples  collected concurrently. Management related implications of these findings include disinfection of gear between sites and follow-up monitoring of amphibian population health and contaminant occurrence within  the Park.

 

Bullets, Shrapnel, Case, and Canister: Archeology and GIS at the Piper Farm

Stephen Potter - Regional Archeologist, National Capital  Regional Office

Union and Confederate forces fought at Antietam Creek  near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American military history with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded, and missing. Some of the fiercest fighting occurred around the Sunken Road -- the northern boundary of the Henry Piper farm. Over four field seasons, archaeologists conducted systematic metal-detector surveys of the Piper Orchard, site of the Confederates’ retreat from the Sunken Road and their stand to hold the center, Caldwell’s Union advance, and the senseless charge  of the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment. A combination of GIS analysis, 3-D terrain modeling, viewshed analysis, and a review of the historical record, resulted in the identification of unit positions and movements derived from an examination of 2,033 military artifacts. This study provides a more  detailed understanding of the events at Piper Farm and demonstrates potential applications to other battlefield landscapes.

 

Surveys of Native and Introduced Bees of the Woodlands of the Mid-Atlantic

Grace Savoy-Burke - Graduate Student, University of Delaware, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology

In collaboration with Rock Creek  Park, and Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts, surveys of forest  woodland bees were made in both 2014 and 2015. As of the writing  of this abstract, summaries of the captures of bees collected in 2014 are being made and will be analyzed by the time of the meeting. Initial impressions are that woodland bee populations are surprisingly dense and healthy within  even small remnant patches of woodland with residual populations of vernal wildflowers. Comparisons will be made with Woodlands outside of the DC area. Brief mention will be made of bumblebee surveys in National Parks outside of the region and past work in area National Parks for native bees.

 

Integrating Cultural Resource Preservation Priorities at a Landscape Scale: Introduction to the collaborative research program being sponsored jointly by the NPS and Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Jean Brennan - Coordinator & Director of Science, Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) - Presenting on behalf of Tim Murtha, Penn State University

The network of twenty-two Landscape Conservation Cooperatives’ (LCCs), established across the United States and several international borders, heralds a new conservation approach, operating at unprecedented spatial and temporal planning scales in North America. Perhaps more importantly this new “conservation paradigm” seeks to integrate human and cultural dimensions into conservation planning and design; thereby emphasizing natural and cultural resources in defining conservation priorities. The goal is to address the threats of land-use conversion associated with such threats as energy expansion, urbanization, sprawl, and climate change on future conservation efforts. This presentation outlines the initial phase of the research the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (AppLCC) will pursue over the next several years to integrate cultural resources in landscape scale conservation planning and design. These critical first step will: 1) identify relevant resources and data requirements, while investigating issues of scale and data availability appropriate for spatial analysis and modeling; and 2) identify a process appropriate to apply at the larger scale, i.e., moving from single state to include the entire LCC 15-states geography. Identifying and integrating cultural resource (CR) priorities within landscape-level modeling is foundational to the “landscape conservation design” (LCD) that will guide the Cooperative membership conservation actions over the next several years in fully implementing this new conservation paradigm.

 

New Sampling Design Reveals Hotspots for Brook Trout Recruitment in Catoctin Mountain Park

Nathaniel Hitt - Aquatic Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center

Catoctin Mountain Park (CATO) provides some of the last, best habitat for native brook trout in the region.  However, surveys by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in CATO indicate declining brook trout numbers over the last decade. We sampled brook trout using a spatially-extensive sampling design throughout Owens  Creek  watershed in 2015 (single-pass backpack electrofishing in 100m blocknetted reaches) to evaluate effects of stream temperature, physical habitat, and brown trout abundance. Abundances of juvenile brook trout (young-of- year, YOY) were highly variable among  locations, suggesting metapopulation dynamics such that some locations may provide important sources of colonists for connected streams. High-density YOY locations supported colder stream temperatures and smaller fish, suggesting thermally-limited growth rates and/or competitive interactions among  individuals. We describe the implications for climate change analysis, and we highlight the importance of key locations for conservation of brook trout in CATO.

 

Our Collections at Risk: Climate Change Threats to NCR Museum Property

Bob Sonderman - Regional Curator/Director, National Capital  Region Museum Resource Center

Over the past 15 years NPS Collections from Texas to Maine have faced devastating impacts from hurricanes and other climate related events. During this time, Hurricanes such as Isabel, Ivan, Katrina and Sandy have wrought havoc on NPS museum collections. Although not subjected to direct impacts from these recent hurricanes, NCR parks have been heavily damaged by their collateral impacts, typically in the form of flooding along the Potomac Valley.  It is simply a matter of time before a major hurricane strikes right at the heart of the Nation’s Capital.   Our recent brush with Hurricane Joaquin highlighted the risks we face in NCR from a devastating Hurricane event and its related impacts. Beginning  in 2014 the NCR Museum Program has been developing an assessment of park collection vulnerabilities to climate change in NCR. This brief presentation will discuss those  threats and highlight how some NCR parks are addressing those  threats.

 

Determining the Appropriate Unit of Management Among Brook Trout Populations Exhibiting Prodigious Neutral Genetic Differentiation and Cryptic Metapopulations in the Chesapeake Bay Drainages with Emphasis on Catoctin Mountain Park

Tim King  - Fishery Biologist (Genomics), U.S. Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center

USGS-Leetown Science Center in cooperation with the National Park Service has genetically characterized in excess of 26,000 Brook Trout sampled throughout the species’ range at 13 microsatellite DNA markers. Extensive population and individual scale analyses have found prodigious neutral genetic  differentiation and few (often cryptic) metapopulations at every scale compared. This punctuated distribution of isolated populations creates a significant resource management conundrum – limited  resources force the inevitable questions of how to prioritize populations for management consideration. This presentation will provide insight into defining  the appropriate units of management for Brook Trout inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay drainages with particular emphasis placed on the collections from Catoctin Mountain Park (CATO). Brook Trout inhabiting CATO represent a model for assessing ecological and evolutionary processes. We will present the results  of new genome-scale analyses which are casting light on the fitness and adaptability (e.g., phenotypic plasticity and genetic) of populations under impending environmental change.

 

Gone but not Forgotten: Storer College

Elaine Eff - Former Director, Cultural Conservation Program, Maryland Historical Trust

Before The National Park Service made it its headquarters, the assortment of hilltop buildings in Harpers Ferry was the home of an historic Black institution called Storer College. It was established in 18-- by Free Will Baptists from Maine wishing to educate recently freed blacks and did so until Brown v. Board of Ed. rendered it redundant and summarily closed its doors in 1955.  A recent oral history project determined to enrich the repurposed campus with the stories of men and women whose full lives as students, athletes, choir members, commuters, townies and romancers and became educators and adults who reaped the rewards of their experience. As chronicler of a dozen graduates or attendee, I will share highlights of their stories with sound and images to illuminate a fascinating little known history of theses well traveled Park Service grounds.


Joint Influence of Deer Management and an Invasive Grass on Tree Seedling Establishment at Catoctin Mountain Park

John Paul Schmit - Quantitative Ecologist, NPS, National Capital  Region Inventory and Monitoring Program
Mid-Atlantic forests face high deer density and invasion by exotic  species. Deer browse kills seedlings, preventing the establishment of new trees. Invasive plants  can harm seedlings through shading, competition or allelopathy.  Catoctin Mountain Park has had reduced tree recruitment due to high deer density for many years. In 2009, the park began culling deer. However, since then  the exotic  grass Microstegium vimineum has spread through much  of the park.  Using data from a forest  monitoring program we assessed the effects of deer management and Microstegium on tree seedlings. Deer management has resulted in a significant increase in the number of seedlings, from ~629 ha prior to deer management to ~6020/ha most recently. Cover of Microstegium increased from 11.8% of the park to 17.2%. Surprisingly, plots with high Microstegium cover also had increased seedling density, indicating that the spread of Microstegium is not undermining the goals of deer management.

 

Movement and Gathering Across Time: A Preliminary Report on the Potomac River Gorge Environmental History and Historic Resource Study Project

Kirsten Crase - Research Associate  & Project Director University of Maryland School of Architecture Planning and Preservation
As part of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, this research project on the Potomac River Gorge  is aimed at better understanding the complex relationship between humans and nature in the culturally and biologically rich Potomac Gorge  area. The remarkable geology, hydrology, and biology of the Gorge  area—stretching 15 miles from the Great Falls of the Potomac to the beginnings of tidal influence in northwest Washington, D.C.—have existed for millennia in tandem with complex and sophisticated human activity, habitation, and development in this area. The final report will examine synthetically the relationship between these natural and human forces, and with two guiding themes underlying the synthetic approach—those of movement and gathering across  time. This preliminary presentation will make use of GIS data and mapping to demonstrate the presence of these natural-cultural intersections at a variety of scales, and will situate  them in a broader historical context.

 

Predictions of Coastal Vegetation Change Associated with Sea Level Rise

Andrew Elmore - Associate  Professor University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science – Appalachian Laboratory
Sea level rise caused by global climate change is forcing  coastal environments to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Wetland migration inland, ideally along corridors of flat undeveloped land, might allow these unique habitats to persist  into the future. However, in some areas developed land protected from tides through the construction of bulkheads and levies and natural areas of elevated land will constrain the area of marsh  and wetland forest,  leading to a loss of biodiversity as habitat area for wetland species is decreased. Therefore, we developed and implemented a data-based modeling framework to predict changes in wetland habitat for the National Parks along the Potomac River Estuary, including detailed maps of current and projected wetland habitat. Our results  are of interest to anyone who lives or visits the shores of the Potomac River, and provide critical information for targeting areas for preemptive actions aimed at maintaining regional biodiversity.

 

National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Archeology Contributions: Successes (and Shortcomings) in Unexpected Situations at Two Historic Sites of the George Washington Memorial Parkway

Matthew Virta -Cultural Resources Program Manager, George Washington Memorial Parkway

Archeological investigations conducted to identify historic properties as part of compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act often yield additional information to benefit the resources and the undertaking.  Case studies from two National Park Service sites, Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial (ARHO) and Glen Echo Park (GLEC) both under the administration of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, provide examples from unexpected situations during project implementation.  A late change in location of installation of utilities into the circa 1803 North Dependency/Slave Quarters at ARHO and unforeseen conditions during subfloor excavations for renovations of the circa 1914 Yellow Barn at GLEC necessitated archeological investigations by GWMP personnel.  The findings resulted in unanticipated discoveries that altered project design plans and augmented site histories and interpretive opportunities.


Sediment and Vegetation trends at Dyke Marsh Preserve and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Cindy Palinkas - Associate  Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point  Laboratory
This presentation will provide an overview of our work at two parks within  the National Capital  Region – Dyke Marsh Preserve (DMP) and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (KAQ). At DMP, we found that the vegetation community and sediment accretion respond to changes in environmental parameters (wind-driven sea-level changes and sediment supply from the Potomac River) at multiple time and space scales. However, at KAQ, sediment accretion was supported largely by contribution of organic matter from plants.  We will present a conceptual model relating sediment and vegetation dynamics to environmental parameters describing two possible scenarios for future marsh  evolution: 1) self-sustaining feedbacks between the vegetation community and sediment dynamics to maintain long-term elevation, and/ or 2) an inundation threshold, beyond which sedimentation rates may become insufficient to maintain long-term elevation.

 

Subsistence Fishing, Ethnographic Resource Study

Shirley Fiske - Research Professor, University of Maryland Department of Anthropology
The Subsistence Fishing, Ethnographic Resource Study is an ongoing study that documents contemporary fishing culture/communities on National Park Service managed land along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Rock Creek. This presentation will provide a brief overview of, and insights  from, the study’s 2015 field season. It will conclude with an outline of the field plan for the upcoming research season.

 

Inventory of Rare Groundwater Invertebrates and Their Habitats in National Capital Parks East Parks

Jenna Keany - Graduate Student, American University Department of Environmental Science
The Washington region  is home  to a remarkable assemblage of invertebrates that live in very shallow  groundwater habitats that emerge at small seepage  springs.  Species include amphipods (Crangonyx and Stygobromus) and isopods (Caecidotea).  One species, Hays spring amphipod (Stygobromus hayi) is on the US endangered species list. Park lands in NACE are little studied in this regard, and we are remedying this deficiency. All park lands are being inventoried by walking transects at 150 m intervals, and recording the presence of seepage  springs,  the resident species, as well as a serious of physico/chemical measurements. More than  100 seepage  springs  have been found, and there is a high concentration (more than  five per hectare) in some parts of Shepherd Parkway.   Especially noteworthy is the presence of seepage  springs dominated by Crangonyx amphipods, a previously unknown community type. This study points to the potential importance of even small parks as reservoirs of biodiversity.

 

Proximity to Power: How the Preservation of Lafayette Square Paved the Way for the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966

Kathryn Smith - National Historic Landmarks & National Register Coordinator, NPS National Capital  Region
Congress has twice fundamentally changed the nature of historic preservation in the United States.  Once in the midst of the Depression with the Historic Sites Act, and then  again in 1966 during another tumultuous decade. Both acts increased the federal role in protecting historic sites.  Each responded to the challenges of the time, and each has ties to a historic square of land in the nation’s capital at the “front” door of the White House. Several presidents and two first ladies were intimately involved in the efforts to retain the 19th century character of Lafayette Square.  The steps in that battle led to high-level executive support of the federal role in historic preservation which contributed to the eventual passage of the act in 1966. This presentation will outline the roles played by President Kennedy, First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy, and the Johnsons in the preservation of the square, and show how this high-profile project reflected important coming trends in historic preservation.

 

Closing Remarks

Perry Wheelock, Associate Regional Director, Resource Stewardship and Science, NPS, National Capital Region

The talks and posters in today's program represent the diversity of our resources on the diversity of disciplines needed to understand and manage them in the multiple voices perspectives and views that should be considered.  I ask all of you that are here today to consider how we in the National Capital Region will go forward to lead the preservation and protection of our resources in a way that is meaningful for both natural and cultural resources and that is specific to the urbanized and suburbanized areas that surround us.  It takes all of us, not just resource managers to accomplish what we do now.

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