Natural Resource Monitoring at Rock Creek Park

Creek flowing through forest, with a bridge high above
Rock Creek Park


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 Rock Creek Park. The results of that monitoring provide park managers with scientific information for decision-making.

Rock Creek Park is one of the largest urban natural parks in the world. Mostly forested, it is dominated by mixed beech and oak plant communities and has extensive stream and wetland habitat.

The park’s main natural resource management concerns are surrounding land use, regionally poor air quality, and overpopulation of deer. Stormwater management is a big concern for stream ecosystems. Regional air quality and land use patterns can have strong effects on park resources.

What's Happening in Rock Creek Park

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    NCRN Monitoring at Rock Creek Park by the Numbers

    *Site numbers as of 2022. These can change over time.
    What We Monitor Sites at Rock Creek* Monitoring Frequency Information We Collect
    Amphibians 10 known wetland pools

    19 known stream transects
    Annual sampling on a subset of known wetlands

    Wetland sites are monitored twice per sampling period
    • Species occupancy and richness for salamanders, frogs, and toads in vernal pools
    Birds – forest only 14 (forest bird) Forest plots are monitored twice a year
    • Forest bird species and abundance
    • Bird habitat quality
    Forest vegetation 19 (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 11 (stream site) on Battery Kemble Creek, Broad Branch, Dumbarton Oaks Stream, Fenwick Branch, Klingle Valley Creek, Luzon Branch, Normanstone Creek, Pinehurst Branch, Piney Branch, Reservation 360, and Rock Creek Stream sites are monitored every other month
    • Acid neutralizing capacity
    • Dissolved oxygen
    • pH
    • Salinity/specific conductance
    • Stream width, depth, flow, and discharge
    • Total nitrate and phosphorus
    • Water temperature

    Last updated: May 16, 2023