November 6, 2023 /
John Boland

Update: Saving Trees at Rock Creek Park Golf Course

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us, submitted comments, talked to their neighbors, or otherwise spread awareness of the National Park Service’s plan to rehabilitate the Rock Creek Golf Course. With your help, we were able to extend the public comment deadline from October 24th to November 4th, allowing us, our partners, and community members more time to make their voices heard. We’ve seen an overwhelming majority, hundreds of public comments, in support of our city’s trees.

We truly believe that the goals of this project – to rehabilitate this historic golf course and provide the community with an accessible recreational space – are not at odds with the community’s wishes to keep existing forested areas and healthy trees. Quite the contrary – the golf course will be a great recreational space because of its trees. The forested areas of Rock Creek Golf Course are what make it unique and a truly enjoyable golf course to walk and play.

Last week, Casey Trees staff went out to the golf course to take a look at what would be lost if this plan is accepted without revision. We looked at Forest Stand A (as it is referred to in the Rehabilitation Plan) and the new site for the proposed maintenance facility, both of which contain large and dense forested areas that will almost entirely be removed.

Additionally, our geospatial team has further analyzed satellite imagery of the golf course canopy and estimates that of the 1200+ trees the proposed plan has slated to remove, approximately 237 are heritage trees (map below). Heritage trees are trees that have a trunk circumference of 100 inches or more and are protected by DC law. This is an aerial estimate using metrics/tools developed by the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Division (UFD), but further demonstrates the need for more time to evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed plan.

A map estimating the heritage trees located at Rock Creek Golf Course, and canopy that will be lost. Click to enlarge.

In this article, we have included two documents: a coalition letter we wrote and sent to NPS along with 20 of our partner organizations as well as our own comments that we submitted directly to NPS. In a statement made to the Washington Post, an NPS spokesperson confirmed that they will review all public comments and create a document addressing substantive concerns. After the public comments are reviewed, the project will be approved to move forward or NPS will begin additional environmental impact studies and continue further public engagement for feedback. We will also keep our readers informed should any new developments come to us.

Rock Creek Golf Course Coalition Signatures

Casey Trees Comments on Rock Creek Golf Course