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Contact: Megan Nortrup, 202-339-8314
This year’s operations window for annual deer population reduction at Rock Creek Park is scheduled to start December 1, 2017, and end March 31, 2018. To carry out the Rock Creek Park White-tailed Deer Management Plan, temporary night-time road closures will be in effect to provide for visitor and employee safety during reduction activities. Commuters, including cyclists, are advised to plan alternate routes.
Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during operations. Biologists, who are also highly trained firearms experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be working under the direction of National Park Service (NPS) natural resource management specialists and in coordination with U.S. Park Police and local law enforcement to conduct reduction actions at night when the park is normally closed.
Over the past 20 years, an overabundant white-tailed deer population has negatively impacted Rock Creek Park. Prompted by a marked decline in forest regeneration, Rock Creek Park initiated a public process to create a plan, finalized in 2012, which calls for reducing the population of deer to a level that will support long-term protection and restoration of native plants and to promote a healthy and diverse forest.
A consistent deer population density of 15-20 per square mile is needed to allow regeneration in a healthy, diverse forest that supports native plants and other wildlife. Without continued management, deer populations would quickly rebound and again eat nearly all tree seedlings and other plants before they could grow. Department of the Interior scientists continue to monitor how well plants are growing with fewer deer, and their findings will help inform ongoing deer management actions.
During deer management operations, Beach Drive NW between Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and Tilden Street NW, as well as Piney Branch Parkway will remain open to traffic at all times. Due to construction, Beach Drive NW between Broad Branch Road NW and Joyce Road NW is closed through mid-2018. The park is closed to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other recreational users from sunset to sunrise.
The following roadways, which are currently open only to pedestrians, bicyclists and other recreational users, are closed during deer management operations to all users from sunset until sunrise:
- Ross Drive NW
- Ridge Road NW, south of Grant Road NW
- Glover Road NW, south of the Rock Creek Horse Center
The following temporary road closures (5 p.m. to 4 a.m.) may also be in effect during deer reduction operations:
- Beach Drive NW, from Joyce Road NW to the Maryland boundary
- Wise Road NW
- Grant Road NW
- Sherrill Drive NW
- Joyce Road NW
- Morrow Drive NW
- West Beach Drive NW from Parkside Drive NW to Beach Drive NW
- Stage Road NW
- Horse Stable Road NW
The following roads are currently closed for construction but will open in late December 2017/early January 2018 and will not be closed for deer management operations:
- Beach Drive NW between Tilden Street NW and Broad Branch Road NW
- Broad Branch Road NW west of Beach Drive NW
- Blagden Avenue NW west of Mathewson Drive NW