After Saturday’s public hearing, Ken Rosenstiel wrote this report: The meeting went well and it started with Elisabeth Lardner of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects announcing that they decided three weeks ago that there would not be any bikes in the park and that got the biggest round of applause. The rest was fairly boilerplate; new Nature Center, modify park entrances, new concert shell, and some playgrounds and improved trails. Folks were given stickers numbered 1-3 and asked to place them on the consultant’s list of significant new features. ‘New/improved trails’ was by far the biggest item, followed by a ‘new nature center.’ So, they said that this ranking would determine the order in which they do them. But, good-news-bad-news, while the trails are a priority and bikes are still prohibited, they got really mushy about fixing the forest, ‘not their problem’, ‘maybe the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability,’ etc.”

My column this weekend is meant as an FYI to the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who live in the Baltimore region: There’s a new Master Plan in the works for one of your favorite destinations, Oregon Ridge Park in north-central Baltimore County. If you don’t want to see mountain bikers on your trails, if you don’t want to see a zip line or anything in the way of commercialized recreation — in other words, if you like trees and hiking trails, wildflowers and birds, if you want to keep the place as natural as possible — the supporters of the park are hoping you’ll have their backs.

One of the things they want to see are at least two full-time natural resource managers hired and provided with the equipment and funds needed to restore the park’s oak forest. My column goes into what’s happened to that area since some logging took place in 2013 and 2014.

These photos are not great, but they suggest one of the problems — too many invasive plants in the understory and too many tulip poplars growing quickly where reforestation of oaks should have taken place.

Also, the trails are in bad shape and need to be improved or, better, relocated to fit into the natural contours of the woodlands. Marty Brazeau made a good video that describes a lot of the issues.

There is a public hearing on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 1 to 3 pm, and other ways for citizens to be heard. Here’s a note from one of the park’s biggest advocates, Keith Rosenstiel:

There will be a presentation of two proposed Oregon Ridge Park Master Plan enhancements at the Nature Center this Saturday. We understand that this will be an “open house” format much like the last Input Meeting, and two alternatives for the future of the park will be shown. It’s critical that you share your thoughts about these alternatives so they can be incorporated into the final presentation tentatively planned for late 2022 or early 2023. We hope that the County keeps the park’s focus on the natural environment, environmental education and research, and improved access to the park’s forested areas. Recent surveys, and the latest input meetings, made it clear that county residents overwhelmingly support the continuation of the prohibition on bikes in the park. However, we have reason to believe that Rec & Parks may ignore this preference and it’s important that we push back on any of these suggestions. Oregon Ridge Park is one of the last places in the areas where we don’t have to yield to dodge mountain bikes, and there are no examples of a successful “separate” trail system in the state.

In person presentation at the Nature Center Nov 12, from 1:00-3:00

Virtual Meeting – Nov 16, 5:00-8:00

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