Region 1- National Capital Area of the National Park Service includes a rich cultural and natural history. Parks in urbanized and fast-growing areas of the Mid-Atlantic cover Washington D.C. and parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Many sites include a diverse array of forests, mountains, and estuaries which support high levels of biodiversity in a narrow geographic range.
Parks are located in the Valley and Ridge region and extend east to the Fall Line, which demarcates the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Local rock reflects the tremendous tectonic forces that gave rise to the Appalachian Mountains. Dense, metamorphosed rocks underlie much of the landscape and ancient limestones have eroded into extensive karst formations.
For millions of years, the Potomac River, a prominent waterway, has shaped and reshaped the area. This river and its tributaries feed the larger Chesapeake Bay Watershed and are abundant in aquatic and terrestrial resources which are both ecologically and commercially important to this region.
The distribution and abundance of flora and fauna in the National Capital Area are inextricably connected to the ecological integrity and diversity of its habitats. Its varied physiographic features, geology and resulting soil types, topography, and climate support a range of terrestrial and aquatic environments that provide diverse habitats for wildlife and plants.
Natural History Collections in the National Capital Area