Human society is an important part of any urban ecological system, including National Mall and Memorial Parks. Understanding how human influences shape urban areas is critical to developing successful management plans directed at protecting and preserving the natural and cultural resources under the park's charge.
With over 20 million people visiting the park each year, park staff recognizes that most aspects of resource management cannot be accomplished without accounting for and responding to the dominant influence of humans on park lands. Moreover, regional influences exerted by surrounding urban areas require the continuous attention of management. For example, the park is interrupted by numerous commuter routes, which create special public safety, aesthetic and environmental problems.
Additionally, one of the greatest influences on management is the ability to provide park space for recreation and special events while adequately maintaining park resources. Providing open space for visitor experiences and special gatherings is a primary reason for the park’s existence. Demonstration and special use permits issued can result in literally hundreds of thousands of visitors descending on the National Mall, the Washington Monument Grounds, West Potomac Park and other areas, bringing with them the attendant hazards of public safety and wear and tear on park resources.