Maryland Wildlands Doubled by General Assembly
Maryland goes a bit more wild!!
“The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” Ed Abby wrote those words long after John Muir started the Sierra Club, but Abby may have taken inspiration from the generations of Sierrans who, ever since 1892, relentlessly took up the challenge of ensuring that nature does not perish from this Earth.
Maryland has no National Forests and no Congressionally designated Wilderness, so we look to Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administered “wildlands” when we seek the restorative balm of nature untrammeled by human kind. This year, the Maryland General Assembly approved a 50% (22,000 acre) expansion of Maryland’s Wildlands. For a map showing the location of the new wildlands go to: http://dnr.maryland.gov/land/stewardship/digitalapwl_areas.asp
That victory, designating 10 new wildland areas and expanding 17 others, didn’t happen by itself (see our conservation campaign page). Sierrans stepped up when DNR proposed the expansion. First in hiking the lands to determine their natural values. Then in turning out for hearings throughout the state to defend the proposal from the developers, commodity exploiters and motorized recreation enthusiasts for whom the idea of leaving natural lands natural is an anathema. And, lastly Sierra Club volunteers and staff worked the legislative halls in Annapolis where their efforts were rewarded by legislative approval of the DNR proposal.
Thanks to that work, the unique ecological values of Soldier’s Delight in Baltimore County are better protected from the relentless threat of sprawl development. Rare and vanishing species such as hellbenders and purple-fringed orchids have a more secure habitat for now and for the future. Southern Maryland wildlands in the new legislation include Chapman’s Forrest and Mattawoman, both areas the beneficiaries of decades of Sierra Club activism. Parkers Creek is not far from the proposed and ill-considered Cove Point LNG export terminal. Western Maryland is the beneficiary of new wildlands, among others, on the Youghiogheny Corridor, Maple Lick Run and Puzzley Run. New or expanded wildlands are found throughout Maryland.