The National Park Service has opened a 45-day public comment period on its draft Anacostia Park Management Plan/Environmental Assessment.  Comments will be received through March 18th. The detailed document can be read or downloaded from this link: Anacostia Park Plan.

The nearly 1200-acre Anacostia Park was largely built by the US Army Corps of Engineers from 1892 to 1942. The Corps constructed massive, linear stone “seawalls” in the wetlands and mudflats along the river’s edges, then dredged the river channel and used the mud to create dry land behind the walls. Congress defined and named the Anacostia Park in 1918.

The National Park Service has managed most of the historic park since 1933, although over the years some parts of it, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium area, the “Boathouse Row” area, and Kingman and Heritage Islands, have been leased, transferred to, or managed by the District of Columbia. Two additional large parts of the park, Poplar Point and Kenilworth North, are Congressionally directed to transfer to the District once certain conditions are met.

The Management Plan/Environmental Assessment document, when finalized, will provide a 15-20 year zoning strategy for the parts of historic Anacostia Park that the National Park Service continues to administer.

As noted on the document’s second page, Anacostia Park is to serve as a “signature urban park that can serve as an example of how the National Park Service can provide high quality, inspirational, natural and cultural spaces close to home, as well as a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities for urban communities.” The draft plan goes on to say “the vision is also to actively manage the park to improve and protect the quality and resiliency of the Anacostia Park ecosystem.”

Park plan cover
Park plan cover

To implement its vision, NPS identified six conceptual “management zones.”  The six are:

  • The Natural Resource Recreation Zone
  • The Organized Sport and Recreation Zone
  • The Community Activities and Special Events Zone
  • The Golf Course Zone
  • The Special Use Zone; and the
  • Park Administration and Operations Zone

The proposed Management Plan/Environmental Assessment does not detail future capital improvements to the park, but such improvements in any particular site would need to be consistent with the designated management zone, and would most likely need additional environmental assessment.

As required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the NPS draft plan is based on a “no action” alternative and three different mixes of the six management zones. Alternative 3 balances seeks a balance between recreation and natural areas;  Alternative 2 is a somewhat more oriented to recreation, and Alternative 4 is more oriented to natural areas.  NPS selected Alternative 3 as its preferred scheme.

NPS is encouraging public feedback on the draft plan, and will consider comments before issuing a final plan later this year.  The Trust is developing comments on the plan for its own submission.