Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), Great Falls Park, Virginia. Click on the image above to view the Photo Gallery of moths of GWMP.
- Photo by Brent Steury
The 7,374 acres that comprise the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) provide habitat and protection for at least 81 species of plants and animals listed in the States of Virginia or Maryland by their Natural Heritage Programs as rare, threatened or endangered. These include 55 species of vascular plants and 26 animals (6 vertebrates and 20 invertebrates).
The natural areas within the Parkway are extremely rich in
biodiversity, parts of which are not yet fully known. As recently as
1995, a species of crustacean new to science, currently called
Stygobromus sp. 15, was discovered at a freshwater seep within the
Additionally, 81 species documented from the G.W. Parkway are first records for the State of Virginia. Important habitat for these species can be found at Great Falls Park, Turkey Run Park, and Dyke Marsh in Virginia, at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, and on Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C. Great Falls Park has the only known location in the State of Virginia for two of the rare plants found there and Turkey Run Park is the only known Virginia site for the Spectacled Nettle Moth (Abrostola urentis). Together these two parks contain 51 species of beetles unknown from the rest of Virginia.
Many of these rare species are associated with the rare plant communities of the Potomac River Gorge such as Bedrock Terrace Rim Xeric Forest and Bedrock Terrace Xeric Savanna.