Mapping Fort A.P. Hill Military Training Center’s Vast Wetlands

Science Center Objects

Mapping of Fort A.P Hill utilizes 2-D interpretation of 2013, 1-foot Color Infrared orthorectified imagery, affording greater detail in wetland interpretation and classification.

Forested wetland in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia
Forested wetland in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia

The Science Issue and Relevance: Wetlands are a land area saturated with water and play an important role in our ecosystem. Wetlands are biologically diverse providing a home to a wide range of plants and animals. Many Federal, State and local governments depend on wetlands to provide flood control, shoreline stability, and economic resources that impact local economies. The Federal government protects wetlands through regulations, (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) economic incentives, cooperative programs, and land acquisition. The Clean Water Act is the Federal regulation that governs, in part, the discharge of pollutants, dredge or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Fort A.P. Hill contains approximately 75,000 acres of land situated in Caroline County in northeastern Virginia and is approximately 70 miles east of Washington D.C. Wetlands on the reservation are all freshwater wetlands and total 6,385 acres (approximately 8.5% of the Fort).

Methods for Addressing the Issue: Mapping of Fort A.P Hill utilizes 2-D interpretation of 2013, 1-foot Color Infrared orthorectified imagery, affording greater detail in wetland interpretation and classification. Hillshade data is also used to assist in wetland and higher order stream detection in higher elevations where identification can be more difficult. Accurate, updated wetland and deep water habitat map inventories are a valuable and needed aid in the restoration and management of these resources, including the application of wetland hydrogeomorphic and functional assessment, wildlife habitat evaluations, and landscape planning and cooperative efforts. Wetland mapping is for restoration or general information purposes; characterization of the wetlands provide managers and planners with critical knowledge for wetland understanding and management planning. Such information is also critical to site selection for restoration and rebuilding efforts, wetland functional assessment, and wildlife habitat evaluations.

Wetlands on the Fort A.P. Hill reservation are all freshwater
Wetlands on the Fort A.P. Hill reservation are all freshwater

Future Steps: Bringing historic and recent mapping efforts together to map trends and identify wetland change for a better understanding of landscape function and wetland conservation.