National Park Service

Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN)

Inventory & Monitoring at
George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Red-bellied woodpecker at George Washington Birthplace NM
Red-bellied woodpecker at George Washington Birthplace NM

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Location of George Washington Birthplace National Monument in the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network. Click for larger image.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument is located on the northern neck of rural and tidal Virginia about 56 kilometers east of Fredericksburg on highway 3 and about 97 km south of Washington, D.C. in Westmoreland Co. The park consists of 220 hectares along the tidal reaches of the Potomac River. The park is fairly flat, typical of the coastal plain. Bounded by the Potomac on the north, the western edge of the park includes Bridges Creek, marsh and private lands, with the southern portion bounded by Pope's Creek estuary and private land, Pope's Creek is found to the east. GEWA lies within the Potomac River watershed, and the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed. Three small sub-basins drain into the Potomac at GEWA. These are Pope’s Creek, Bridges Creek, and a third unnamed creek. Land-use in these three sub-basins is largely agricultural. Salinity of Pope's Creek and other marshes within the park can be as much as 60% sea water with crabs, jellyfish, oysters and other marine organisms present. Erosion along the Potomac shoreline is severe and represents significant threats to the park. Primary habitats include about 100 ha of mixed conifer/hardwood forest and loblolly plantations, 90 ha of open fields, 60 ha of fresh and saltwater marshes and swamps, and 7 ha of developed and historic areas. Three freshwater ponds and about 2000 meters of Potomac beach and cliffs are also present.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument natural resource management issues include:

  • Shoreline Change: Erosion along the Potomac shoreline is severe and represents significant threats to estuarine water quality, salt marsh health and biotic diversity. Documentation of the impacts from erosion at GEWA including loss of plant species is needed to provide a better understanding of the shoreline erosion process, those areas within GEWA experiencing the highest erosion rates and recommendations for conserving the shoreline and its associated cultural and natural resources.
  • Water quality-Extensive testing or documentation of freshwater and estuarine water quality is required to determine potential contaminant impacts to aquatic habitat health at GEWA. This work is essential in order to begin the process of possibly restoring Pope's Creek as a spawning area for species such as oysters and sturgeon
  • Wildlife Management- Issues include protection of rare, threatened and endangered wildlife species; appropriate deer and woodchuck population management ! Habitat management- Issues include documentation of habitat health within forested and marsh areas; native warm-season and meadow grass species re-introduction; protection of rare, threatened and endangered vegetative species
  • Exotic species management-Currently the impacts of exotic species on native species and rare/sensitive habitats is unknown.

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Last Updated: September 22, 2017 Contact Webmaster