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“Deer Management” operations start in Rock Creek Park today

From the National Parks Service:

“To protect and restore native plants and promote healthy and diverse forests, Rock Creek Park is announcing its deer management window of operations starting Nov. 20, 2019, through March 31, 2020.

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.

NPS staff will be posted during temporary night-time road and trail closures to provide for visitor and employee safety during reduction activities. Commuters, including cyclists, are advised to plan alternate routes.

Over the past 20 years, an overabundant white-tailed deer population has damaged Rock Creek Park. Prompted by a marked decline in forest regeneration, the National Park Service 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 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 forest. Without continued management, deer populations would quickly rebound and again eat tree seedlings and other plants before they could grow. The National Park Service continues to monitor how well plants are growing with fewer deer, and the findings will help inform ongoing deer management actions.

The following roads will remain open at all times:

Piney Branch Parkway.

Broad Branch Road.

Roads to be temporarily closed during operations:

Note: Bingham Drive NW, closed to vehicle traffic for a sewer rehabilitation project, will remain closed.

Temporary road closures from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. may include:

Horse Stable Road NW.

Ross Drive NW.

Ridge Road NW, south of Grant Road NW.

Glover Road NW, south of the Rock Creek Park Horse Center.

Temporary road closures from 6:45 p.m. to 4 a.m. may include:

Beach Drive NW, from Joyce Road NW to Wise Road NW.

Beach Drive NW, from West Beach Drive NW to the Maryland/District of Columbia boundary.

Sherrill Drive NW.

Beach Drive between Broad Branch Road NW and Joyce Road NW.

Beach Drive between Wise Road NW and West Beach Drive NW.

Wise Road NW.

Ridge Road NW.

Glover Road NW.

Grant Road NW.

Joyce Road NW.

Morrow Drive NW.

West Beach Drive NW at Parkside Drive NW.

Stage Road NW.”

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