Natural Resources

Overview of Bowie's Natural Resources

Bowie is a city rich in important environmental resources, both within its boundary and surrounding it. These include the 50+ miles of streams that flow through the City, its rather extensive urban tree canopy, the Patuxent River to the east, the National Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to our north, and the Maryland Belt Woods Natural Environmental Area just southwest of here. All of these priceless and irreplaceable features are threatened by a host of factors – development, water pollution, non-native species, loss of habitat, and climate change, to name a few.

Learn how to protect our valuable resources:

Overview of Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem services are the benefits we, as humans, along with plants and animals can derive from the natural setting within an ecosystem. For example, some native plants provide shade, shelter, food, and water (provisioning) for pollinators like bees and therefore allow them to live and thrive while pollinating some of our very favorite foods like avocados or peaches.

Ecosystem services are grouped into four broad categories, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:
  • Provisioning, which is the production of food and water
  • Regulating, which is the control of climate and disease 
  • Supporting, which refers to nutrient cycles and oxygen production
  • Cultural, which refers to spiritual and recreational benefits
Some ecosystems in Bowie are:
  • Wetlands
  • Native plant beds and gardens
  • Forests
  • Rain gardens
Protecting Natural Resources
There are four Monarch Butterfly Waystations on Bowie properties. These are gardens that are dedicated to the prosperity of the species that depend upon it. They utilize native plants that the monarch and other pollinators need, and they help in the fight against invasive species. Invasive species are not naturally found here, but once planted tend to take over. Using native species, especially pollinator-friendly perennials, helps in the fight against invasive species. We encourage all residents to visit these properties - behind City Hall at Centennial Park, the Bowie Senior Center, Kenhill Center, and Belair Meadows. Check out the map below to explore the locations of the four Monarch Waystations and take a look at the photos later on this page.

We also have rain gardens at the back of the Kenhill Center (along the parking lot adjacent to the athletic fields) and a larger version called bioretention off the front parking lot. These areas collect rainwater from the parking lot and treat it using native species and special soils. The vegetation and soil soak up nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) before sending cleaner water into the storm drain system. 

Wetlands work similarly and support dozens of different species - algae, insects, plants, frogs, fish, birds, and more. They provide a place for larger animals to come drink, eat, make nests, and hide from predators. The ecosystem services provided by wetlands are endless and that is why they are sometimes referred to as nature's kidneys.

What Can I Do?

For starters you can visit one of the aforementioned sites to learn even more about native plants, stormwater, wetlands, etc. You can then:

Contact the Sustainability Division to learn more about these activities and how you can get involved!

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