Natural Resource Monitoring at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Standing in a frosty field, a man records landscape surroundings
Ecologists map amphibian habitat at Harpers Ferry.


The National Capital Region Inventory & Monitoring Network monitors air quality, amphibians, birds, forest pests, vegetation, invasive plants, stream water, and stream fish and macroinvertebrates at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The results of that monitoring provide park managers with scientific information for decision-making.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains and includes floodplains of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. 70% of the park is forested with various types of eastern deciduous forest.

The park's main natural resource management concerns are surrounding land use, regionally poor air quality, and overpopulation of deer. Climate change is predicted to negatively affect many of the natural resources of the park, including increasing ozone levels and particle pollution, raising the temperature of trout-supporting streams, changing forest composition, and favoring invasive species and forest pests and diseases. Regional air quality and land use patterns can have strong effects on park resources.

What's Happening in Harpers Ferry

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    NCRN Monitoring at Harpers Ferry by the Numbers

    *Site numbers as of 2021. These can change over time.
    What We Monitor Sites at Harpers Ferry* Monitoring Frequency Information We Collect
    Amphibians 35 known wetland pools Annual sampling on a subset of known wetlands
    • Species occupancy and richness for salamanders, frogs, and toads in vernal pools
    Birds – forest and grassland 20 (forest bird)

    29 (grassland bird)
    Forest plots are monitored twice a year

    Grassland plots are monitored three times a year
    • Forest bird species and abundance
    • Grassland bird species and abundance
    • Bird habitat quality
    Forest vegetation 21 (forest vegetation) Approximately a quarter of plots each year on a four-year cycle
    • Deer browse
    • Fallen and standing woody debris
    • Targeted diseases and pests
    • Targeted invasive plant species
    • Trees, shrubs, vines, and specific non-woody plants
    Stream biota – fish and macroinvertebrates At streams listed below Periodic sampling 2007-2014, 2019-2023
    • Aquatic macroinvertebrates taxa and abundance
    • Fish species and abundance
    • Stream physical habitat including bank stability, stream shading, and distance from developed areas
    Stream water quality 1 (stream site) on Flowing Springs Run Stream sites are monitored every other month

    Wetland sites are monitored twice per sampling period
    • Acid neutralizing capacity
    • Dissolved oxygen
    • pH
    • Salinity/specific conductance
    • Stream width, depth, flow, and discharge
    • Total nitrate and phosphorus
    • Water temperature

    Last updated: May 13, 2022