Recreation impacts to cliff resources in the Potomac Gorge: Final report, June 2011

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Managers of the National Park Service (NPS) are directed by law to accommodate appropriate types and amounts of visitation while ensuring that: any adverse impacts are the minimum necessary, unavoidable, cannot be further mitigated, and do not constitute impairment or derogation of park resources and values. (NPS 2006). The increasing popularity of the national park system presents substantial management challenges. High visitatation may cause unacceptable impacts to fragile natural and cultural resources, and may also cause crowding and other social impacts, which can also degrade the quality of visitor experiences. Responding to these concerns, NPS managers at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (CHOH) and George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) sponsored this research within the upper Potomac Gorge portions of these parks to investigate visitation-related impacts to the park?s cliff resources. The cliffs and rocky areas within the Great Falls and Mather Gorge areas provide important habitats for numerous sensitive rare plants and plant communities. A recent General Management Planning process for Great Falls Park (GFP), a portion of GWMP, highlighted the potential impacts of cliff-associated recreational activities, including hiking, climbing, and fishing, on sensitive cliff resources. The planning process identified the need for development of a Climbing Management Plan and a Trail Plan to more specifically address site and visitor management actions needed to protect rare and sensitive natural and cultural resources. Good science to assess cliff-associated rare plants and communities and to determine the existing and potential effects of cliff-related recreational activities is required for these new planning efforts. This research is designed to specifically address these informational needs and to assist park managers on both sides of the river with current and future cliff and recreation management decisions.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Recreation impacts to cliff resources in the Potomac Gorge: Final report, June 2011
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Virginia Tech, College of Natural Resources & Environment, Department of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Publisher location Blacksburg, VA
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description viii, 127 p.
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