FT 6
Vegetation, Flora, and Ecology of the Potomac Gorge

Sunday, August 9, 2015: 7:30 AM-5:00 PM
Charles St. Entrance, Baltimore Convention Center
Chris Lea, ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification
Mark N Frey, National Park Service; Brent Steury, National Park Service; Michelle Carter, National Park Service; and Deborah Barber, The Nature Conservancy
The Potomac River has shaped the land along its place on the Atlantic coast Fall Line for millennia. During the Pleistocene, falling sea levels increased the river's gradient, allowing it to carve the dramatic Potomac Gorge. This gradient also generates high velocity currents during major floods, which scour riparian surfaces to near bedrock and create globally rare plant communities, such as riverside prairies and bedrock terrace forests. Some of the highest vascular plant species richness counts recorded in the United States occur here. In a trip that includes Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, we will examine these and other community types and learn about their contribution to and place in to the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. We also will encounter a number of locally rare and disjunct plant species. While the trip will focus on vegetation and flora, we also will see a number of historical structures from the American canal building era and the unusual and scenic fall line geomorphology features, such as the Great Falls of the Potomac and the many outdoor opportunities such as hiking, bicycling, whitewater boating that attract millions of recreational enthusiasts to this area every year.

Among the trip leaders are biologists who represent the two national parks that manage this globally significant natural resource, as well as the Nature Conservancy. They will discuss the work of protecting these elements of the nation's natural, cultural, and scenic heritage within the urbanzed landscape of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Invasive plant species, high deer populations, municipal water withdrawals, urban temperature influences, and nitrogen deposition are among the challenges.

Registration Fee: $52

Equipment and Attire: Field clothes, with sturdy walking shoes, and rain gear and sun protection (hat, sun screen). A day pack is recommended. Walking distances will be less than 1.5 miles total, but some rocky, uneven surfaces may be encountered. Poison ivy and stinging insects may be encountered.

Itinerary: 7:30 am - Depart Baltimore Convention Center (1 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201) 8:45 am - GWMP Biodiversity by Brent at Great Falls Auditorium (Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102) 9:15 am –short walk 9:30 am - Great Falls VA riverside Prairie 10:15 am – short walk 10:30 am - Great Falls VA Cow Hoof Rock 11:15 am – short walk 11:30 am - drive 11:45 am – Old Angler's Inn (MacArthur Boulevard, Potomac, MD) 12:00 am – Lunch 12:30 pm – short walk 12:45 pm - Widewater and the south end of Bear Island (walks) 1:30 pm – short walk 1:45 pm - Drive 2:00 pm – Arrive at parking (38.931856,-77.112844) 2:15 pm – short walk 2:30 – visit site - Chain Bridge Flats 3:30 pm – short walk 3:45 pm Drive 5:00 pm - arrive Baltimore (1 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201)

See more of: Field Trips