Antietam National Battlefield is well known for its role in American history. Established in 1890 to commemorate the single bloodiest day of the American Civil War (23,110 casualties), the park attracts an estimate of 205,000 visitors each year. The battlefield, located in the Great Valley region of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley province, encompasses over 3,250 acres of farmland, pastures, woodlots and limestone forests.
In 1992, the Antietam National Battlefield General Management Plan was approved, outlining goals for restoring the battlefield to its 1862 appearance. The plan includes projects such as replanting of historic woodlots and orchards, re-establishing original fencelines, lanes and trails, as well as maintaining the integrity of the historic farmsteads.
The areas in natural cover at the battlefield offer a haven for many different species of plants and animals, and also provide a number of secondary benefits including water and air quality enhancement, ground-water recharge, storm flow moderation, and recreational enjoyment.
As part of a region-wide effort, the National Capital Region Network (NCRN) monitors resources in the natural areas of Antietam. One of the biggest efforts is the monitoring of forest vegetation in 12 plots spread throughout Antietam's forests and historic woodlots. In all plots the trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs are identified to group or species, measured, and labeled. They are also checked for diseases, pests, and evidence of deer browse. Special note is made of both rare and invasive plant species.
Birds are of particular interest and are monitored twice each year at 14 sites in Antietam's forest areas. In 2015, NCRN conducted a pilot of grassland bird monitoring at 90 plots within Antietam. Resource briefs and further information about NCRN monitoring at Antietam can be found here.can be found here.
NCRN has also written articles on birds at Antietam and forest regeneration at the park.
Visit this site for podcasts on many of the natural features found at Antietam.