NPS logo

Science in the Parks
current projects
final reports
items in the news
related sites
proposal and report guidelines


Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2007/077

Gary B. Blank1, Michael S. Martins1, Criss Swaim2,
and Hugh A. Devine1

1North Carolina State University
College of Natural Resources
Raleigh, NC 27695
2The Pineridge Group, Inc.
Raleigh, NC 27606

March 2007

U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Northeast Region
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Executive Summary

George Washington Birthplace National Monument is located in Westmoreland County on the Northern Neck of rural and tidal Virginia about 45 miles east of Fredericksburg on State Highway 3 and about 80 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. The park is fairly flat, typical of the North American Coastal Plain. Park-owned and managed lands comprise 550 acres. Preserving and interpreting the history and resources associated with George Washington, the historical monument attempts to portray conditions of an 18th century tobacco farm by maintaining period-representative farm buildings, tree groves, livestock, gardens and fields. Most land at the site has been either a working farm or historical landmark since the 18th century. The Washington family burial ground is also located within the park.

Land use history at the park can be divided into five phases during the last 1100 years: Late Woodland Period, Brooks Patent, Popes Creek Plantation, Wakefield Plantation, and Park status. Implications of each stage are potentially important, but the results of the last three phases principally affect current decisions about resource management and impact predictions at the Birthplace. Substantial evidence of paleo-archeological remains has been observed at the park although the precise extent of this resource has not been determined.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service) classified the majority of the park’s land as ‘non-tidal wetlands’ or ‘prior converted wetlands’ with Leaf, Lenoir, or Bibb/Levy soil types. Four non-hydric park soils include Rumford fine sandy loam, Tetotum loam, Montross, and Nansemond. Freshwater ponds, creeks, a number of springs, areas of tidal marshes, and freshwater wetlands constitute the water resources at the Birthplace, but the park extracts groundwater as the public drinking water supply.

Park habitats include beaches and dune habitats, marshes and estuaries, open grasslands, closed canopy forests, memorial cultural landscapes, and developed lands. Three acres of developed lands include the visitor center, staff residences, and parking areas. Memorial cultural landscape structures include open areas for penned stock. Twelve vegetation classes have been identified, and species have been inventoried several times. A small area of very old trees has been studied but general characteristics of the forest remain to be examined. Two plant species significantly important at the state level were discovered in the inventories done, but questions concerning present status of both species remain. Two globally rare plant communities have been noted. Faunal communities present reflect the diverse habitats within the boundary but lack large predator species and the natural balance of other species populations that such predation enables. Some populations have been studied more completely than others. Exotic and pest faunal species are not problems noted at the park but some invasive plants need attention.

Air quality at the park reflects its position within the urbanizing Middle Atlantic region and the heavy dependence of residents on personal vehicles for transportation. Similarly, viewshed and lightscape issues result from the rapidly developing rural-urban interface and the tendency for affluent city dwellers in the region to seek locations for recreation and leisure.


The file for this report is large, therefore it has been divided into two pdf files. Click on a file to open it.

pdf file 1
Front Matter through Natural Resources

pdf file 2
Analysis, Consolidation, and Synthesis to end