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Total Area: 261 acres (0.4 mi2)
Average Imperviousness: 32%
Population: 1,400
Population Density: 3,500/mi2
Wetlands: None


Forest Cover: 35.9%
Deciduous: 45.4 acres
Coniferous: 4.2 acres
Mixed: 26.9 acres
Shrub/Scrub: 14.0 acres

Local Watershed Group: Pope Branch Park Restoration Alliance

Pope Branch is a very small free-flowing tributary of the Anacostia River; the stream enters the river in the vicinity of the CSX Railroad Bridge in Washington, DC. The subwatershed is generally bound by K Street to the north, Fort Davis to the east, Fairlawn Avenue to the west, and Highwood Drive to the south. The entire subwatershed is located within the District of Columbia. There are no remaining open tributaries. It should be noted that the lowermost 1,385 feet of Pope Branch, from Fairlawn Avenue downstream to the Anacostia River, is piped.

Dominant Land Uses: The two dominant land uses in the Pope Branch subwatershed are forest cover (33%) and residential (65%).

Physical Characteristics: The Pope Branch subwatershed is approximately 261 acres (0.41 mi2) in size and approximately 32 percent impervious. Pope Branch is located entirely within the Coastal Plain physiographic province. Geologically, the Coastal Plain portion of the Anacostia watershed is characterized by largely unconsolidated sedimentary deposits of sands, gravels, silts and clays.

Biological Characteristics: Pope Branch is designated as a Class 'A', 'B', 'C', and 'D' stream (i.e., Class 'A'= Primary Contact Recreation; 'B'= Secondary Contact Recreation and Aesthetic Enjoyment; 'C'= Protection and Propagation of Fish, Shellfish and Wildlife; and 'D'= Protection of Human Health Related to Consumption of Fish and Shellfish) by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). All (i.e., 3 out of 3) of the Pope Branch Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) main stem sampling stations were rated as having partially supporting or supporting physical aquatic habitat conditions present. The condition of macroinvertebrate populations in the Pope Branch main stem is very poor to poor. With regard to the existing fish community, the main stem does occasionally support very low numbers of American eel elvers. Recent stream assessment surveys suggest that Pope Branch is capable of supporting pioneer fish species such as blacknose dace and northern creek chubs. In general, the main stem aquatic communities remain impacted from both uncontrolled stormwater runoff and episodic inputs of sewage from old leaking sewer lines.

Several physical barriers to both resident and anadromous fish movement and migration are present (e.g., weirs, piped stream sections, etc). These, as well as other barriers in Pope Branch have been identified and remain as a restoration challenge for this subwatershed. It should be noted that efforts on the part of DDOE, DCWASA and the NPS to control stormwater runoff, replace/rehabilitate the failing sewer line network, and restore main stem instream habitat remain on-going.

Condition Summary: Approximately 78 percent of the total Pope Branch subwatershed area is developed, and roughly 77 percent of the stream miles have an adequate riparian forest buffer (i.e., 300-foot total width). Not surprisingly, far more stormwater retrofitting and stream restoration efforts are needed to restore the Pope Branch aquatic ecosystem. Planned future projects include, but are not limited to: stormwater management focusing on the employment of low impact development (LID) and environmentally sensitive design (ESD), sewer line replacement and rehabilitation, wetland creation, aquatic and terrestrial habitat restoration, fish barrier modification/removal, invasive plant management, trash reduction and potential fish reintroductions.

To get involved in protecting your Anacostia subwatershed contact the Pope Branch Park Restoration Alliance.