Natural Science, History, & Culture in the National Capital Area

Where Can I Find Out More About My Park?

National Capital Area (NCA) Resource Stewardship & Science (RESS) can support your work interpreting, preserving, and maintaining your park. Use the sources below to learn about research done for the parks in natural science, culture, and history, and where you can find it.

Aerial view of the eastern boundary of Rock Creek Park, showing the divide between forest and urban development.
Looking south along the eastern boundary of Rock Creek Park where NPS works to protect natural, cultural, and historic resources in an increasingly urban setting.

NPS/Thomas Paradis

NPS Report Libraries & Websites

The IRMA Data Store- a large collection of NPS natural and cultural resource reports, articles, and geographic data.
ETIC (Electronic Technical Information Center)- an NPS repository for planning, drawings, designs, and technical reports.
NPS Library
NCA Cultural and Natural Resources (known as RESS; Resource Stewardship and Science)

Cultural Resource Records

Cultural resource staff on foot and in a bucket lift clean the Theodore Roosevelt memorial statue.
Cultural resource staff work with volunteers to carefully clean the Theodore Roosevelt memorial statue on Theodore Roosevelt Island.


● Historical summaries and why a place is worth preserving:

● Timelines and lists of important places and features

Cultural Landscape Inventory reports
Cultural Landscape Profile articles
NCA Cultural Landscape Program

● Historical photos and maps showing how a place has changed over time ● Building plans and histories ●How your park started and how it has changed over time ● In-depth historical overviews and context:
Historic Resource Studies (parks)
Special History Studies (local or regional themes)
National Historic Landmark theme studies an easy to browse, external site updated with publications listed by park
● Communities with connections to parks: ● Archeological studies of park lands *Check with your park cultural resource manager for access since some of these reports are restricted for management use only.

Museum Collections

Museum Resource Center- National Capital Area- History, Archeology, Natural Resources, and Archives collections.

Natural Resource Data

Man uses a tape to measure the trunk of a large forest tree
The Inventory & Monitoring program monitors forest vegetation every year in parks across the National Capital Area.


Inventory & Monitoring (I&M), the National Capital Region Network. An NPS in-house, long-term natural resource monitoring team.
Park-specific collections of I&M information.
Park Species Lists
Climate Change and Air Quality data.
Stream Water Quality monitoring data.
Natural Resource Condition Assessments reports evaluate natural resource conditions and trends for a park. Initial chapters often provide environmental and landuse history information.
Invasive Plant Species information from the team that manages invasive plants in NCA.
● Geographic data in a user-friendly format (no GIS software needed!) includes landcover, population density, Landscape Dynamics Viewer
Vegetation Maps- an external site that depicts the natural communities of plants and animals that occur together in NCA parks.

About Us

In Region 1 - National Capital Area (NCA), cultural and natural resources staff form what’s called the Resource Stewardship and Science directorate (RESS). They support park resource managers, superintendents, and others in making well-informed decisions that impact natural and cultural resources. RESS staff also provide technical assistance, analysis, and evaluation of a wide range of resource management issues in biology, ecology, archeology, history, and preservation.
Ultimately, the work of RESS staff supports the National Park Service mission, by helping parks to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife” of parks, and in finding ways for the enjoyment of these resources that will leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Learn more about NCA’s RESS directorate and more about Region 1 - National Capital Area.

Last updated: April 27, 2022