Preserving Historic Structures

Preservation in a Changing Climate

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built cabin camps in Catoctin during the 1930s as part of a nationwide movement to connect the American public with outdoor recreation and conservation. Originally, youth with disabilities camped in the cabins, and during WWII
the military used the cabin camps and Catoctin grounds for training. For the past several decades, school groups, scout troops, and other visitors have enjoyed the cabins and the connection they provide to nature. As the climate changes and the impacts become more severe, there is an increased chance of the cabin camps being damaged. Will people continue to connect with the outdoors in the same way as they once did?

Climate Change Infographic George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. By Nicole Coumes.National Park Service logo. National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Catoctin Mountain Park. Created for the National Park Service in partnership with the Center for Climate Change Communication Here are some things you can do to reduce your impact to the climate: carpool, bring reusable containers and utensils, recycle Catoctin's current actions: Catoctin Mountain Park is monitorint the preservation needs of its historic structures and is taking action to protect them from climate change impacts. Our park is also working to be more climate friendly by reducing emissions. We encourage visitors to be climate friendly with us! Pests thrive in warmer weather, resulting in more termite damage to follow temperature pattern changes Severe Weather: 71% increase in the frequency of heavy downpours this century, which increases erosion over the next few decades Increased Temperature and Humidity: 60 additional days per year above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 25-50 years To continue connecting visitors with the outdoors for future generations, the cabins need to be protected from various climate change threats Threats to our buildings Materials In Danger: Disappearing Chestnut - American Chestnut lumber can no longer be replaced and is experiencing accelerated rot. What is happening to Catoctin's Historical Stuctures?

The National Capital Region, where Catoctin Mountain Park is located, is expected to experience numerous climate change impacts over the next several decades. In the next 25-50 years, there will be an estimated 60 additional days above 90 degrees fahrenheit. These warmer temperatures will affect the materials used in our cabins and may decrease visitation during peak months (Fisichelli, et al, 2015). The increase in temperatures and humidity will also bring increased pests that thrive in warmer weather. Pests, such as termites, will increasingly damage the cabins’ irreplaceable American chestnut lumber. Climate change has already resulted in a 71% increase in the frequency of heavy downpours in the Northeast corridor of the USA from 1958-2012 (Melillo, Richmond & Yohe, 2014). The frequency of intense storms is likely to continue to increase over the next several decades and result in erosion that damages the foundations of our cabins.

Our park monitors the conditions of the cabins and other historic structures. We monitor humidity which leads to rot, and other conditions afflicting the cabins. We are in the process of creating a preservation management plan that will allow us to better monitor how climate change is affecting the preservation needs of the cabins. Catoctin is also taking action to be more climate friendly by reducing its emissions and is encouraging visitors to do the same. Learn what the park is doing through its climate friendly park plan!



Alten, Helen (1999). Temperature and Relative Humidity: How temperature and relative humidity affect collection deterioration rates. Northern States Conservation Center. Retrieved from

EPA (2015). Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Retrieved from

EPA (2015). Future Climate Change. Retrieved from

Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, Eds. (2014). Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, doi:10.7930/J0Z31WJ2.

PCI Magazine (2002). How Does Wood Rot?. Retrieved from

V. Karuppaiah and G.K. Sujayanad (2012). Impact of Climate Change on Population Dynamics of Insect Pests. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 8(3), 240-246.

Fisichelli, N.A., Schuurman, G.W., Monahan, W.B., and Ziesler, P.S. 2015.

Protected area tourism in a changing climate: will visitation at US national parks warm up or overheat?. PLOS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128226.NPS_visitation_climate_park_brief_CATO.pdf.

Last updated: February 21, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

6602 Foxville Road
Thurmont, MD 21788


301 663-9388

Contact Us