Inventory and Monitoring at Gettysburg National Military Park

A scenic view of the battlefield, looking north from the Mississippi Memorial.
Battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park.

NPS

Environmental Setting

Located in Adams County, south central Pennsylvania, the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of the largest Civil War battle ever waged in the Western Hemisphere. The Gettysburg National Military Park's mission is to preserve and protect the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and to provide understanding of the events that occurred there, within the context of American history.

Situated in the Piedmont Province, the park encompasses over 2,424 ha (5,989 acres) and consists of gently rolling hills and valleys with elevations averaging between 152 to 177 m (500 to 580 feet) above sea level. The landscape is a mosaic of mature and maturing woodlands and woodlots, agricultural fields, pasturelands and intermittent streams.

When evaluating the combined area of Gettysburg NMP and nearby Eisenhower National Historic Site, agricultural field is the most common vegetation type (40%). These large expanses of grasslands provide important habitat for birds and mammals, and contain several rare plant species. In total, the parks are home to 16 species that are considered endangered, threatened, or species of special concern in the State of Pennsylvania. Gettysburg NMP is also considered a Pennsylvania Important Bird Area.

Key Resources and Issues

The park currently faces numerous threats to its natural and cultural resources. Runoff from nearby agricultural fields can lead to stream and groundwater contamination, and an overabundance of deer can adversely affect forest regeneration. Add to these, stresses due to global warming and the spread of invasive exotic species that impact biological diversity and degrade park habitats.

In addition to the natural resource management activities being performed by park staff, scientists of the Mid-Atlantic Network Inventory and Monitoring Program have instituted several monitoring protocols to monitor the status and trends of natural resources at Gettysburg NMP.

Last updated: August 27, 2018