To help protect park natural resources like forests, streams, and wildlife, a team of National Park Service scientists with the National Capital Region Inventory & Monitoring Network (NCRN I&M) is continually assessing conditions at George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP).
Ongoing NCRN monitoring of forest vegetation occurs at 20 plots spread throughout GWMP 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 noted along with targeted invasive plant species. Fallen and standing woody debris (that provides essential habitat to many types of wildlife) is also monitored.
The NCRN also monitors water quality every other month in Mine Run, Pimmit Run, and Turkey Run, as well as Minnehaha Creek on the Maryland side of the Potomac. 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. Between 2008 and 2013, NCRN monitored aquatic macroinvertebrates, fish, and stream physical habitat in the same streams.
NCRN also monitors forest birds twice each year (at 20 plots) in GWMP's forested areas.