Save Black Marsh

May 09, 1991

One of the simple pleasures Maryland offers in the spring is a walk or bike ride through Black Marsh State Park in southeastern Baltimore County. Sadly, few people have had the experience. That is why the state wants to develop 20 acres of the wildlife preserve into a waterfront recreational park. That's bureaucratese for a 150-car parking lot, an amphitheater to accommodate 700, a yuppified "eatery" on the Chesapeake Bay, a fountain, lighthouse, two-story visitors center, 50 boat tie-ups and a picnic area. Fortunately, the project is still in the formative stages, and there is ample time to put a stop to it.

Black Marsh is one of the few pristine places left on the bay. Still, there are remnants of an earlier era -- when the trolley stopped there and the carousel glistened and men and women danced under the stars and dined in the fine restaurant at Bay Shore Park. But the old park was closed in 1945, and the trees grew over the remaining slabs of concrete. The ospreys returned. And the eagles. Today, the walk through the woods is quiet; you can hear the birds, the soft, steady splash of water against the shore and, occasionally, the belching of a bull frog.

Certainly more Marylanders should know about and have a chance to enjoy this peaceful natural resource. But speed boats and gas cans and sushi on a stick are not prerequisites. And though the state's plan might bring more people to Black Marsh, it would do so at the cost of dredging a portion of the bay, rolling bulldozers through the woods and pouring concrete and steel into places now inhabited by rabbits and beavers.

A coalition of citizens, community and environmental groups is asking the state to rethink the plan and to reforest the land and build only a small nature center so more people can experience )) the marsh. With 97 percent of the land on the bay already developed, and with the potential damage to the bay's ecosystem posed by this development, the coalition makes a strong case. The last thing we need is acres more of concrete and glitz.

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