Natural Features

Washington, DC was established on swampland in 1791. Since that time, significant amounts of soil have been brought in or dredged from the Potomac River to create the landscape of today. As a result, many of natural features that originally existed where National Mall and Memorial Parks is now, have been paved over as the city has expanded. However, resource management in the park is still governed to some extent by the properties of urban soils and by the Potomac River. Soil characteristics influence management of plant species maintained on park land while the river, its floodplains and shoreline pose unique management issues in terms of flooding and shoreline stability.

One other feature worth mentioning is East Potomac Golf Course located in East Potomac Park on Hains Point. This site is ecologically significant to Washington, D.C., because it represents a potential natural area in a predominantly urban landscape. Projects are currently underway to convert out-of-play areas and roughs into native wildlife and plant habitat. These areas serve as prime examples of how urban habitat renewal can be achieved within the existing framework of urban/built environments. Projects underway to increase the ecological value of this site include habitat enhancement for wildlife such as birds, fox, and butterflies, and plants such as native grasses and wildflowers.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Washington, DC 20024



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