A SYNTHESIS OF
NATURAL RESOURCE INFORMATION
FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON BIRTHPLACE
Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR2007/077
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
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
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 parks 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
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Front Matter through Natural Resources
Analysis, Consolidation, and Synthesis to end