The Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Inc., a private organization founded by Oella real-estate developer Charles Wagandt in 1999, has submitted a proposal to Howard and Baltimore Counties to certify a new Maryland Heritage Area, to be called "Patapsco Valley Heritage Area".
As currently written, the draft Management Plan for the Heritage Area includes 5000 acres of Patapsco Valley State Park, about half the length of the Patapsco River, and 25 square miles of Baltimore and Howard County surrounding the Park.
The Sierra Club position is that state parkland should not be included in the Heritage Area designation approved by the county governments. If approved by the counties, the Management Plan for the Heritage Area will be adopted as an amendment to the comprehensive plans of the counties.
The protected state land in the park should not be included, since it is not under the jurisdiction of the counties. The state park should be governed by its own Management Plan prepared by the Maryland Department of Natural Reources.
The Patapsco Heritage Greenway's draft Management Plan (PHG Management Plan) for the Heritage Area includes only this paragraph about the Patapsco Valley State Park:
The PHG Management Plan includes a provision to fund and help write a new Management Plan for the Park. This is a serious conflict of interest if the PHG is also the managing entity of a Heritage Area than includes the Park.
The Sierra Club position is that the Patapasco Valley State Park should be excluded from the boundary of the proposed Heritage Area until an up-to-date Master Plan or Management Plan is completed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with the participation of all stakeholders. Stakeholders will include a citizens advisory committee and expert committees in different specialties, such as environmental conservation and historical preservation.
The Heritage Area management process includes reviewing the boundaries of the area periodically. If the revised DNR Management Plan for the Park includes becoming part of the Heritage Area, that change can be considered in the future.