Trailhead is latest path to Parkers Creek Preserve

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Trailhead is latest path to Parkers Creek Preserve

Prince Frederick, MD - 10/24/2013

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By Marty Madden

Calvert County residents and visitors now have one more good reason to lace up their shoes and get moving. With community leaders in attendance, the Prince Frederick Trailhead was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Tuesday, Oct. 22. The trailhead is located behind St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick.

According to officials with the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT), the Prince Frederick Trailhead is one of four “gateways” to the Parkers Creek Preserve. The preserve, which is managed by ACLT and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is Calvert’s largest natural area.

The preserve is over 4,000 acres and encompasses tracts from Prince Frederick to the Chesapeake Bay. The trailhead now gives hikers a way to walk from the county seat to the bay without having to dodge vehicle traffic.

To make the trailhead possible, the ACLT received assistance from local government, a local church, property owners, legislators, and, in no small measure, the Boy Scouts of America.

According to ACLT Executive Director Karen Edgecombe, while the 6.1 mile trail to the bay was a four-year project, its origins go back much further. Edgecombe credited retired county planner Randi Vogt with first having the vision for including open space, known as a “greenbelt,” in long-range plans for the development of Prince Frederick.

“The idea just kept resurfacing,” said Edgecombe.

According to a synopsis on the project history from the Calvert County Department of Economic Development Director Linda Vassallo, in 2004 the county acquired “a key property just outside Prince Frederick making it possible to imagine a public hiking trail linking the town to the Chesapeake Bay. In 2012, ACLT purchased the final property needed to complete the trail and St. John Vianney Catholic Church agreed to allow the trailhead to be located on their property.”

Edgecombe said the trust obtained a 2009 Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant. Two Corporate behemoths, Dominion and BGE also supported the projects and built components.

Edgecombe also praised St. John Vianney Pastor Father Peter Daly as a “prime mover in the project.”

Local Boy Scouts and hunters helped map the trail.

The trust also had to navigate through the permit process, getting the state’s permission to build bridges over wetlands. “That wasn’t easy,” Edgecombe recalled. The building of the footbridges was described by Edgecombe as “the most amazing story” was the number of scouts volunteering on the project grew prodigiously from one small family to three Boy Scout troops. Five footbridges were built in six months. Edgecombe said the number of volunteer hours logged on the footbridges alone was 850. In total, the trailhead project cost an estimated $40,000 with 1,765 volunteer hours logged.

“It’s a major accomplishment,” said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. [D- District 27], who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony along with all five Calvert County Commissioners. Miller expressed elation over the connection “of an urban center with a park.”

While Oct. 22 was a day to celebrate the trail it was not a day to walk it. The midafternoon rain would have been a deterrent but the trail was closed anyway due to gun hunting season being in progress. Edgecombe said afterwards the ACLT’s south-side trails in Port Republic remain open since hunting is not allowed in those areas.

When the trail reopens, anyone who plans to walk it should bear in mind bicycles, motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited on the trails due to steep slopes and erodible soils.

Dogs must be leashed and their humans must clean up after them.

There is to be no smoking, no fires and no camping on the trail.

Edgecombe advises that wearing hiking shoes, running shoes or any sturdy footwear with good tread underneath will be ideal for your walk along the path.

Visit ACLT’s web site at www.acltweb.org for more information and— happy trails!!

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com



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