On September 25, 2023, NPS released the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Golf Course. The proposed improvements will address the site's maintenance backlog, increase playability, and broaden course appeal while focusing on historic preservation, environmental sustainability, diversifying golf programming and creating a vibrant community resource.
The EA describes two potential alternatives: no action or golf course rehabilitation.
Under the no action alternative, Rock Creek Park Golf Course would continue to operate in its current condition.
Under the proposed rehabilitation, the Rock Creek Park Golf Course would undergo a full rehabilitation to:
• Reinvigorate the parkland-style course to follow its historical design more closely.
• Improve facilities to better support golf course operations and enhance visitors' experience.
• Address drainage, irrigation and deterioration of grass throughout the golf course.
• Improve trails and paths used by both pedestrians and golf carts.
The EA analyzes the potential impacts of both alternatives on the natural, historic and human environment, consistent with the treatment recommendations outlined in the 2019 Cultural Landscape Report.
The EA public comment period, which was open between September 25 to November 4, 2023, is now closed. The National Park Service currently is reviewing all public comments and will create a document that responds to all comments that are substantive.
After reviewing the public comments, the park would either prepare a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), authorizing the golf course rehabilitation to move forward; or the NPS would determine another course of action. The timing for completing the response document and next steps will depend on the amount of substantive comments the NPS will need to address.
It is important to note that the NPS selected the preferred alternative after completing a Cultural Landscape Report on the Rock Creek Golf Course (as well as the two other golf courses NPS maintains in Washington, DC) in 2019. Specifically, the report notes the following:
"The historic golf course established in 1920 and nestled within Rock Creek Park
will be rehabilitated to preserve prominent golf course architect William Flynn's
open, parkland-style. As originally designed, its layout reveals the striking upland
topography of Rock Creek Park and appealing distant views that are elsewhere
concealed by the dense growth of woodland. This physically challenging course
retains much of the integrity of its historic design. Several factors present
challenges for the management of the course. Among these are the relatively
remote location which is not readily visible from adjacent streets and roads, and
the difficulty of the layout due to its steep topography and encroaching woodland
vegetation. The existing clubhouse, in the NPS Mission 66 style, was built in
the early 1960s and is now insufficient to accommodate expanded functions.
Woodlands adjacent to tee boxes, fairways, and greens have in places matured and
now constrict the field of play to an impractical extent. The shade and persistent
moisture caused by woodland encroachment make it both difficult and costly to
cultivate a thriving playing surface."
The Cultural Landscape Report recommends treatments that address these factors and maintain the historic layout of the Rock Creek Park Golf Course. The preferred alternative largely follows these recommendations, while acknowledging that the removal of a substantial number of trees will be needed to achieve playability on the rehabilitated course.
The Cultural Landscape Report, along with a Cultural Landscape Inventory and a Historic Resource Study - - all of which describe the historic importance of the golf course - - can be found at the following links:
- - National Park Service Golf Courses in the District of Columbia East Potomac Park, Langston, and Rock Creek: Treatment Guidelines Cultural Landscape Report:https://irma.nps.gov/DataStore/Reference/Profile/2264719
- - Links to the Past: A Historic Resource Study of National Park Service Golf Courses in the District of Columbia:https://irma.nps.gov/DataStore/Reference/Profile/2254682
- - Rock Creek Golf Course: Cultural Landscape Inventory, Rock Creek Park, National Park Service:https://irma.nps.gov/DataStore/Reference/Profile/2240481
The NPS is also completing compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act for this project, in parallel with the environmental assessment process. This compliance process will identify adverse impacts from the rehabilitation to the qualities that make the course eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. From this process, the NPS will work with the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Officer to identify ways to minimize and mitigate for any adverse impacts, such as the removal of the existing, historic clubhouse.
In addition, the NPS is consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, to identify and mitigate impacts to threatened and endangered species in the project area to include the northern long-eared bat.
For more information about this project, contact Rock Creek Park Resources Manager Nick Bartolomeo at 202-895-6010, or by email at email@example.com.
The National Park Service (NPS), in coordination with National Links Trust (NLT), is undertaking a plan and environmental assessment to improve the Rock Creek Park Golf Course. NLT is a nonprofit that has a 50-year lease to manage the golf course. The rehabilitation is part of their long-term management of the Rock Creek Park Golf Course.