The House of Representatives Tuesday approved transferring another 500 acres of Fort George G. Meade to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action adds to the 7,600 acres transferred to the service Oct.1 under legislation passed last year.
The new transfer -- which would have to take place by Sept. 30, 1992 -- is part of the Military Construction Appropriations Act for 1992. The final version of the bill still must be passed by the Senate.
"This transfer seals the fate of this property for generations tocome," said Congressman Tom McMillen, who supported the bill. "(These) transfers will combine with other properties in the state to make one of the largest contiguous green spaces on the East Coast."
Maryland residents cannot continue to allow the state to be developed without protecting a forest area, McMillen said.
"It would be a terrible legacy for our future and our children's future," he said.
After the announcement that 9,000 acres of Fort Meade would be declaredsurplus under the Base Closure and Realignment Act, a land re-use task force recommended that the area be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Congress passed legislation last year protecting 7,600 acres. In April, the task force, dubbed the Fort Meade Coordinating Council, recommended that an additional 500 acres be includedin the transfer for the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The research center hopes to open a visitors area near Route 198 in early November.
Tipton Airfield sits on 400 of the remaining 900 surplus acres. Another 500 acres are not considered usable because they contain a number of environmental hazards, including a toxic landfill.
"Wehave protected a rich area for generations to come," McMillen said. "In addition, the public will have ample opportunity to continue using the land for recreational activities."