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Contact: Stephanie Loeb, 202-619-7400
The National Park Service (NPS) recently completed a Wetland Restoration Action Plan that identities an approach to restore, enhance and protect 49.38 acres and 19,985 linear feet of wetlands and streams, respectively, in four national parks: Catoctin Mountain Park; Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (NHP); Harpers Ferry NHP; and Monocacy National Battlefield.
“Restoring and improving wetlands in western Maryland national parks will increase recreation opportunities like fishing, hiking photography and wildlife watching,” Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. “Our approach will improve the health of the park’s ecosystem.” Wetlands provide a variety of valuable functions and are fast becoming recognized as valuable public resources. They provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife, purify polluted waters and curb the destructive power of floods and storms.
NPS managers will use the Wetland Restoration Action Plan to avoid, minimize or reduce negative environmental impacts on these wetlands by projects and other external factors. The plan will also help prioritize wetland enhancement projects and track wetland conditions and improvements.
Enhancement projects and techniques are identified by unit and will be used to reach a variety of goals: to allow native wetland plants to grow in areas previously dominated by invasive plants; improve the function and health of streams; restore safe fish passage; prevent future disturbance of the wetlands; help visitors understand the importance of wetlands and bring the ecosystem to a more stable, healthy condition.
The NPS analyzed two alternatives and considered public feedback as part of an environmental assessment before finalizing the plan. In late June, then NPS National Capital Regional Director Bob Vogel signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The FONSI is the decision-making document for the project, and it determined that the project will have no significant impacts. The FONSI and EA are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/WRAP.