Nature & Science - Overview
Natural Resources at Vicksburg National MILITARY Park? Very much so! In fact, natural resources are intimately linked to the historical events which transpired here. The fact that Vicksburg was considered the "Gibralter of the Confederacy" was due to its location atop the high loess soil bluffs adjacent to the Mississippi River. The consistency of the soil itself was crucial in allowing troops to dig trenches and tunnels, as well as providing shelter to the civilian population in the form of artificial caves. The thickly wooded forests growing in the area supplied the material needed for construction of fortifications along the siege lines. In short, the natural resources at Vicksburg are an integral component of the park's cultural landscape.
Considered apart from their historical ties, Vicksburg's natural resources have a significance unto themselves as well. The glacially-derived loess soil blufflands are a relatively rare geological landform in their own right. Left undisturbed, the ridges and ravines support a dense forest cover, and some of the oldest second-growth trees in the state are found in the park. This quality habitat along the Mississippi migratory flyway has led to Vicksburg being designated an Important Bird Area. The park provides a haven for not only threatened and rare bald eagles and warblers, but also reptile and plant species that are of special concern to biologists. Animals of the prehistoric past are present as well, reappearing in fossil-laden limestone layers that have been exposed by the park's many ecologically rich waterways.
Vicksburg National Military Park was set aside in 1899 to preserve and interpret the siege and defense lines of a crucial Civil War battle. When the site was passed from the War Department to the National Park Service in 1933, the Park Service acquired a property containing a vast array of historical and natural resources. True to its mission, the National Park Service today is actively managing all of the park's resources, ensuring that the outstanding natural resources present in this military park are not overlooked.