Carroll volunteers impress natural resources chief

October 23, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Torrey C. Brown, secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, was impressed with all the park sites he toured yesterday in Carroll County.

But he said he was most impressed with the county's volunteerism.

"The people and how much they are willing to give to this work is outstanding," he said. "I have seen volunteers helping with every imaginable part of the environment."

When Dr. Brown arrived at Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center, the last stop of his two-day tour, he saw volunteerism in action: Six South Carroll High students and their teacher, Robert Foor-Hogue, were planting trees as a buffer for the center's wetlands.

"Our science research class really latched onto this project," said senior Charlene Barnes.

In about an hour, the students had planted 16 hardwood trees, provided by Maryland TREEmendous program, and were still hard at work with picks and shovels, trying to get 25 white pines in the ground.

"This soil is so hard," said Donna Baker, a state forester. "It made the planting even harder."

"Not hard work, just dirty," said junior Kim Crown.

Lisa Peltier said she is eager to see how the trees fare this winter. She plans to check them when she returns as a counselor in the spring.

"This work is the best thing we can do, and it shouldn't be cut out," said Dr. Brown.

Dr. Brown also saw an exhibit that detailed the school's efforts to save wetlands near their Winfield campus. Similar projects have been successful statewide, he said.

"We created 8 more acres of wetlands than we lost or damaged last year, and there has been no net loss with new development," he said. "Our standard is first avoid, then minimize, and finally mitigate."

Developers must replace every wetlands acre that is lost to development by as many as 3 more, he said.

"Their dollars go into the fund that helps build wetlands like this," he said, pointing to the acreage around the center.

"We work with builders and have cut back by 80 percent on wetlands that might have been used. Sometimes, it's just a matter of suggesting the building be moved from one place to another."

From the wetlands site, the secretary trekked uphill to Bear Branch Nature Center, which was constructed partly with Planned Open Space (POS) money from the state.

"We have done everything to maximize the resources here," said John P. Little, the county's recreation and parks director. "We have volunteer labor and donations of plants, materials and equipment."

About 50 volunteers are to landscape the center tomorrow, he said.

"People use parks here and care for them," said Mr. Little. "We are doing the work ourselves, squeezing every dollar we can. This center is a good example of what POS money and volunteerism can do."

Dr. Brown said that he was glad to see what the county had done with its POS funds.

"I hope they don't cut it any more," he said. "I hope they put it back."

Naturalist Heather Davis pointed out several unique features of the center, including an "in-the-works" planetarium, which the Westminster Astronomical Society is making.

The center also will have a Children's Discovery Room and a Home Exhibit, complete with recycling information.

"This is exactly what people are always asking for," said Dr. Brown. "This nature center also fits in with all levels of school groups, even college programs."

Mr. Little said none of the work could have been accomplished without the nearly 5,000 residents who volunteer annually.

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