In deciding how Anne Arundel's open spaces should be used, the county's new chief of environmental facilities and programs is determined to let the land show her the way.
Don't try to pigeonhole Tolly Peuleche on the issue of park preservation and development. Depending on the circumstances, she says, she may agree with either parks and recreation officials, who often favor development of ball fields and other facilities, or with environmentalists, who believe parkland should be left as pristine as possible.
"You would see me fall a lot of different places on the spectrum,depending on the site," Peuleche said.
Formerly chief of resources planning with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Peuleche has been in her new county position for just three weeks -- barely enough time to settle in, let alone traverse Anne Arundel's 1,425 acres of undeveloped parkland to see how it should be used.
On this particular day, Peuleche, 41, is sitting at her desk in a neat skirt and jacket. But she plans to spend more than half of her time in boots and jeans, traipsing across the fields, through the woods and along the shores of such Anne Arundel parks as Beverly Triton Beach and South River Farm.
"I better be out there more than half the time or Iam not going to be happy," she said.
Peuleche's job involves maintaining undeveloped parkland, studying it and helping to decide how -- and if -- it should be developed. She also will be responsible foroverseeing operations at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in South County,London Town Publick House in Edgewater and Thomas Point Park in Annapolis, as well as supervising the county's horticulture crew.
As aresource planner at DNR, Peuleche helped develop master plans for the 15,000-acre Gunpowder Falls State Park in Baltimore County, the Catoctin Furnace area of Cunningham Falls State Park in Western Marylandand Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary on the Patuxent River. She also servedon the governor's Maryland Greenways Commission to help design a statewide network of "greenways" -- corridors of open space that follow streams, ridge tops, rivers and other natural features.
An Arnold resident with degrees in history and landscape architecture, Peulechejoined the DNR staff in 1976 as a park planner and was promoted to chief of resources planning in 1983. She left the state for the countyafter finding she was spending more time behind a desk than out in the woods or fields.
"I was getting high enough in the organization that the bureaucracy was taking a lot of my time, things like writing letters for the governor to sign and attending meeting after meeting. What I wanted to do was field work, where I could go out and get my hands dirty."
Managing the county's undeveloped parkland will require Peuleche to do just that. She'll have to know every acre in order to make the right recommendations about how the land should be used.
"There's a whole database of information we use for a piece of property. It might have archaeological significance. It might have a stand of old trees. I just think you should let the site lead you in the right direction."
Peuleche isn't yet saying what should be done with specific tracts of open parkland, aside from protecting them from people who use them as dump sites. Aware of conflict between citizens who want more ball fields and skating rinks and environmentalists who want more natural habitat, she says, "I certainly think there'sroom for both. In general, I always err on the side of being a conservationist."
Peuleche replaces Tony Dove, who resigned Aug. 29.