Natural Resources

Overview of Bowie's Natural Resources


Train track pond by Bowie Blade 5x3 300 dpi_thumb.jpgBowie 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:

​What Are 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, pictured top right
  • Native plant beds and gardens
  • Forests
  • Rain gardens

​Protecting Natural Resources

In Bowie, there are three Monarch Butterfly Waystations. These are areas of garden 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. Invasives are not naturally found here, but once planted tend to take over. Using native species, especially pollinator-friendly perennials helps in the fight against invasives. The three demo waystations, which we encourage all residents to visit, can be found behind City Hall at Centennial Park, at the Bowie Senior Center, and at Belair Meadows. 

We also have stormwater retention ponds at Kenhill Center, which utilize native species as well as a natural flow of water to redirect accumulated rainwater. These are similar to gardens with a native focus because they both tend to do a great job at holding in water, therefore helping out when there is a potential for floods- they hold a lot of that water for us! While holding that water, the plants and soil tend to soak up nutrients (often times nitrogen) so that the water coming out of it is much cleaner than before. 

Wetlands do much of the same as those listed above, but they are home to tons of different species! They house algae, insects, plants, frogs, fish, birds and more, and then provide a place for larger species to come to drink, find food, etc. 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:
  • Plant your own rain garden
  • Become a National Wildlife Foundation certified backyard habitat
  • Simply plant more natives and pollinator-friendly plants
  • Make sure trash does not go into our streams or forests
  • Contact the Sustainability Planner or Green Team to learn more
  • Plant more trees, focusing on native species

​Green Infrastructure


Hazards like flooding and droughts are often mitigated by our natural resources and the ecosystem services they provide. Since natural disasters and hazards are predicted to increase by 2100, having natural hazard mitigation is a cost-effective way to provide what is known as Green Infrastructure. When you hear or see that term, please know that it refers to a natural way to protect the environment from hazards through utilizing ecosystem services.

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