Natural Resource Monitoring at Catoctin Mountain Park

A woman wades across a stream running a tape measure behind her.
Water monitoring in Owens Creek. Photo: NPS/Nortrup

To help protect park natural resources like forests, streams, and wildlife, a team of National Park Service ecologists with the National Capital Region Inventory & Monitoring Network (NCRN I&M) is continually assessing conditions at Catoctin Mountain Park.

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Ongoing monitoring of forest vegetation occurs at 49 plots spread throughout the park forests. At these plots the trees, shrubs, vines, and specific non-woody plants are identified to group or species, and trees are measured and labeled. Any evidence of deer browse on trees or shrubs is noted. Diseases and pests are also recorded along with targeted invasive plant species. Fallen and standing woody debris (that provides essential habitat to many types of wildlife) is also monitored.
Forest birds are monitored twice each year at 45 forest plots. Catoctin is home to at least 15 species of conservation concern and, as of 2011, two of those (Acadian flycatcher and wood thrush) were among the top ten most abundant species in the park.

NCRN I&M also monitors water quality every other month in Big Hunting Creek, Blue Blazes Creek, and Owens Creek. Water is tested for levels of dissolved oxygen, pH, acid neutralizing capacity, salinity/specific conductance, total nitrate, total phosphorus, and water temperature. NCRN I&M also measures stream width, depth, flow, and discharge. A set of continuous water loggers in Owens Creek also measure conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and water level.
NCRN monitored aquatic macroinvertebrates, fish, and stream physical habitat condition in streams throughout the park between 2008 and 2013.

Periodic monitoring of amphibians in streams and wetlands throughout the park began in 2015.

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    Tags: ncrn

    Last updated: May 13, 2022