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Shenandoah National Park

Few remnants of the families that once inhabited the area that became the park have survived; this cemetery is located near Hawksbill Mountain, and is easily visible from Skyline DriveEcology

The climate of the park, and in turn also its flora and fauna, is largely typical for mountainous regions of the eastern Mid-Atlantic woodland, and indeed a large portion of common species are typical of ecosystems at lower altitudes as well.

On southwestern faces of some of the southernmost hillsides pine predominates and there is also the occasional prickly pear cactus which grows naturally. In contrast, some of the northeastern aspects are most likely to have small but dense stands of moisture loving hemlocks and mosses in abundance. Other commonly found plants include oak, hickory, chestnut, maple, tulip poplar, mountain laurel, milkweed, daisies, and many species of ferns.

The once predominant American Chestnut tree was effectively brought to extinction by a fungus known as the Chestnut blight during the 1930s – though the tree continues to grow in the park, it does not reach maturity and dies back before it can reproduce. Various species of Oaks superseded the Chestnuts and became the dominant tree species. Gypsy moth infestations beginning in the early 1990s began to erode the dominance of the oak forests as the moths would primarily consume the leaves of oak trees. Though the Gypsy moths seem to have abated some, they continue to affect the forest and have destroyed almost 10 percent of the oak groves.

Mammals include White-tailed deer, black bear, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, opossum, groundhog, red fox, gray fox, and Eastern cottontail rabbit. Though unsubstantiated, there have been some reported sightings of mountain lion in remote areas of the park.

Over 200 species of birds make their home in the park for at least part of the year. About thirty live in the park year round, including the barred owl, Carolina chickadee, red-tailed hawk, and wild turkey. The Peregrine falcon was reintroduced into the park in the mid 1990s and by the end of the 20th century there were numerous nesting pairs in the park.

Thirty-two species of fish have been documented in the park, including brook trout, longnose and blacknose dace, and the bluehead chub.

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