Union Bridge to reclaim area for park Trees to be planted on now-weedy site

September 02, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

UNION BRIDGE -- With money from the Green Shores program, the town hopes to turn 35 acres of grass and weeds into a park.

The park, which would be at the northern entrance to Union Bridge along Route 75, would surround Little Pike Creek and offer a verdant welcome with hundreds of trees and nature trails.

Green Shores, the state's buffer incentive program, encourages forest planting and maintenance along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

"We have Little Pipe Creek, a really nice tributary, right here in town," said county planner Steven C. Horn. "The program can help enhance the area, and a park would be a nice amenity."

Developers designated the 35 acres, part of the recently annexed Phillips property, for the town. That made the site public land and eligible for the state program.

"It's a large area with wonderful possibilities," said Donna Baker, a state Department of Natural Resources project forester.

"Planting trees along the waterway will improve water quality, too."

Several years ago, farm animals grazed on the land, which lies in a flood plain. Site preparation may include mowing and herbicide application, Ms. Baker said.

"I want to go out and look at the site, decide which part to work on first and submit the paper work for a grant request," she said. "A spring 1993 planting is feasible."

After Ms. Baker completes her survey, she will meet with town officials and volunteers, county landscaper Neil Ridgely and Mr. Horn.

Maintenance will be no problem, said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., who added that several volunteers are willing to help.

Initially, the program recommends planting between 400 and 700 tree seedlings per acre, but the town may choose to plant in stages on the parcel.

Ms. Baker's survey will detail which parcels would be most adaptable.

"We plant 2-year-old seedling stock and prefer hardwoods to pines," said forest ranger Beth Trickett. "We also recommend tree tubes to protect seedlings from deer and rabbits, who browse heavily on young trees."

The biodegradable tubes, which are 4-foot tree shelters, don't hinder the trees' growth. Each costs $2.90 and includes stake and netting.

"They are expensive, but replanting costs more," said Ms. Trickett.

The state would pay for replanting even for trees destroyed by floods, said Mr. Horn.

"The program calls for planting a massive amount of trees and expects about 60 percent to survive," he said.

Spring planting and maintenance could be a community project, he said.

"Volunteers can handle a portion of the planting," said Ms. Baker. "The town can use some grant money to hire a landscape contractor for the rest."

The first few years demand the most intensive maintenance to protect the trees from competing weeds and grasses, she said. After that, the trees can compete on their own.

The town could add walking trails through the trees and erect bluebird and mallard boxes to attract wildlife to the area.

"All the town has to do is plant a few acres and agree to maintain the area," said Mr. Horn, "and we get a park right in town."

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