Springs and Seeps


A seep emerges creating a unique habitat in the upland community at Gaines' Mill

(NPS Photo)

Visitors to Richmond National Battlefield Park may encounter a wetland or stream community in an area where there is no apparent water source. These are known as seeps or seepage wetlands and occur in areas where soil type and terrain conditions allow groundwater to seep from the underlying water table. Seeps feed several larger creeks within the park where sandy soil, quickly sloping terrain, and a shallow water table combine to create the conditions necessary for a seep to occur. These creeks include Crewes' Channel at Malvern Hill, and Boatswain Creek at Gaines' Mill. Seeps help to maintain the quality of water in these streams by contributing clean water, recently filtered by underground soil and rock.

Seeps and seepage wetlands share the characteristic high diversity of traditional stream and wetland habitats, however there are several species unique to seepage habitats. Seeps provide a home to invertebrate species such as isopods and amphipods (small shrimp-like animals). While the herbaceous composition of individual seepages may vary, there are several rare species often found in seepage habitats. These include swamp pink and Virginia least trillium.

These wetland oases are a distinguishing feature in the park forests and create valuable habitat for unique plants and animals, while improving water quality in park streams. The park will strive to preserve these unique natural features by maintaining adequate forested buffers around them as well as the natural hydrological regime that created them.

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