Title: Protecting a Natural Gem
Kentucky Warbler. Photo by Steve Maslowski
Kentucky warbler. Photo by Steve Maslowski, USFWS

In the heart of fast developing Anne Arundel County, Maryland lies a natural jewel. Nestled between busy communities and highways, is the largest remaining contiguous forest in the county.

A movement to preserve this patchwork of connected properties in the South River watershed has been quietly building over a couple of years. Groups including The Scenic Rivers Land Trust, The South River Federation, The Trust For Public Land, Biophilia Foundation, Anne Arundel County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office joined together in an effort to protect forests, wetlands and streams in the South River Greenway.

The conference, South River Greenway: Land, Water, People, brought more than 75 people from various organizations together to get the ball rolling.

Forest understory. Photo by Rich Mason, USFWS
Forest understory, Photo by Rich Mason, USFWS

The primary target area for initial inclusion in the Greenway covers about 6,000 acres, half of which is under some kind of protection already via public lands, county and city parks, homeowner association set-asides and BGE power line rights-of-way.

The forests and wetlands harbor a large diversity of migratory birds; including species of high conservation concern like the Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, wood thrush, worm-eating warbler and prairie warbler; amphibians including the wood frog; and many types of reptiles, and mammals. 

The long-term goal is to find owners willing to put properties under some form of easement or perhaps sell their land to add to the core already protected. This long-term comprehensive program aims to not only keep the forest intact, but also stabilize miles of streambeds damaged by runoff, restore and preserve habitat for fish and birds, and enhance potential light recreation in the area.

The South River Greenway is just one example of how the Chesapeake Bay Field Office is "Connecting People with Nature". This principle incorporates natural resources, environmental quality and human health, ensuring the future of conservation in America.

For more information contact:
Rich Mason
Chesapeake Bay Field Office
410/573/4584
rich_mason@fws.gov

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