Part of the Inflation Reduction Act set to bolster Gettysburg Battlefield’s ecosystems

06 March 2024- Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP) has been awarded a combined $429,000 to help combat catastrophic forest loss and study the effects of climate change on inland and river landscapes. Funding for these important projects and studies will be provided through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA became law on August 16, 2022. It provides the National Park Service with a historic opportunity to address critical ecosystem resilience, restoration, and environmental planning needs.

Catastrophic Forest Loss

In Gettysburg NMP, forests are crucial to the health of ecosystems, integrity of the cultural landscape and surrounding local communities. However, forest health monitoring in eastern national parks has shown that park forests are rapidly changing, and don’t have enough tree regeneration in the form of seedlings and saplings to replace canopy trees as they fall or die. IRA funds will be used to support the Resilient Forest Initiative through restoration efforts to sustain native forests for future generations.

This project will restore resilience to forest ecosystems of high ecological and cultural value in Gettysburg NMP, as well as 18 other Northeast national parks. Through strategic invasive plant management and planting of native tree seedlings, park forests will be more resilient to climate change and disturbances, allowing the park to achieve its goal of maintaining the current pattern of field and forest, and ensuring these forests persist for future generations to enjoy.

Inland and River Landscapes

Gettysburg NMP, along with other inland and river battlefield cultural landscapes, is seeing effects of climate change that are expected to become more severe in the coming decades. Frequent stream flooding, increases in severe storms and their impacts, changing vegetation communities and fire regimes, and rising temperatures are all creating management challenges. At Gettysburg NMP, we will explore a variety of approaches for preserving our unique battlefield cultural landscape, from earthworks and other archeological resources to natural resources like forest and grassland vegetation that contribute to the historical scene. The project will identify strategies that the park will use to ensure that the cultural landscape is protected and continues to represent a focal event of the Civil War.

The project will create a comprehensive spatial database that combines existing cultural resource data (archeology, ethnography, historic structures, and cultural landscapes) and will integrate climate projections to support planning for the protection of fundamental park resources. The IRA is making it possible to immediately apply some of the strategies that will be developed through this project, through the grassland and forest restoration projects that will provide lasting climate resilience to crucial features of the Gettysburg NMP cultural landscape.

“The Inflation Reduction Act funding provided to Gettysburg NMP will help us in the coming years continue to utilize best practices when facing a range of stressors including over-abundant white-tailed deer populations, spread of invasive plant species, extreme weather events, and changing climate conditions” said Acting Superintendent Kristina Heister. “At worst, these stressors can alter the battlefield landscape through the loss of forests, native plant communities, and associated wildlife. This investment to protect and restore healthy and resilient park lands is fundamental to the cultural landscape, healthy ecosystems, and visitor experience and will benefit people and our local community for generations to come.”