Park workers and volunteers will try to entice hummingbirds and other wildlife to Anne Arundel County's most popular park as they mark Earth Day by planting gardens this weekend.
Volunteers will weed and clean the area and plant flowers and shrubs by a small pond behind the headquarters of the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail Park. The Earleigh Heights site is small -- about 50 yards by 100 yards -- but the plans are big.
More than 500,000 people use the 13.3-mile B&A Trail each year. The Earleigh Heights pond is the only one the county is actively managing and developing for wildlife along the narrow trail.
The gardeners hope their work in an area near Ritchie Highway will attract a greater variety of wildlife. David DeVault, a ranger, will guide the project.
He also hopes to plant bushes and trees that provide shelter and berries for birds.
A former park ranger started the wildlife area about two years ago with a butterfly garden planted in annual flowers and trees. Ranger DeVault has added marigolds and petunias.
The area's central feature is a storm water pond that always has at least a foot of standing water. Turtles sun themselves on the banks. Fish and frogs live among the cattails. Herons fish for dinner, and smaller birds flock to feeders on poles dotting the slopes.
The area is fenced, with an observation deck beside the paved trail.
"At night, the frogs are just deafening out here," Ranger DeVault said, noting that it should be easier to create a wildlife area around the pond than it was to create wildlife areas at Downs Park, where he had to bring in the water.
The hummingbird and butterfly gardens that will be built are about 8 feet square.
Butterflies prefer flowers they can easily land on, such as zinnias, and bright flowers such as coreopsis and cosmos, the ranger said. Bee balm, coral bells, snapdragons and red flowers tend to bring hummingbirds.
Nearly all of the plants have come from Ranger DeVault's windowsill or donations from outdoor enthusiasts, the ranger said. A Pasadena man is bringing flowers from his yard on Saturday, and the Chartwell Garden Club is donating $100 that Ranger DeVault will use toward bushes or trees. The county has put in about $20.
Eventually, a sunflower plot will be planted by the pond.
Another slope, this one about 16 feet by 16 feet, is being turned into a wildflower meadow, with donated plants and seeds. "That way, if it's perennial, we can expand on it next year," Ranger DeVault said.
Another part of the trail, Cattail Creek in Severna Park, is not being actively managed. The county bought the land last year and has left it undeveloped "so the area won't get loved to death," said Dave Dionne, trail superintendent.
The county paid the B&A Railroad Corp. about $1 million for the 19 acres and intends to keep it natural, said Jack Keene, chief of planning and construction with the county's Department of Recreation and Parks.
Other Earth Day events include:
* Today: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the quad at Anne Arundel Community College, a celebration featuring bands, displays by environmental groups and vendors; address by Del. Marsha G. Perry, a Crofton Democrat, on environmental legislation.
* Today: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., cleanup of Back Creek, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Protection Agency Program Office. For directions or other information, call 267-5700.
* Friday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Annapolis, exhibits of Naval environmental projects, with other governmental and nonprofit organizations participating. Admission is by reservation only; call (410) 293-2776.
* Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. College Creek cleanup, one of many Annapolis "Greenscape" activities, this co-sponsored by the Severn River Association and Maryland Save Our Streams, with party to follow. Volunteers should meet at the St. John's College boathouse.
* Saturday: 9 a.m. until finished, along Aviation Boulevard at Baltimore-Washington International Airport: The Sawmill Creek Watershed Association and Sawmill Creek Recovery Team, with assistance from the Maryland Aviation Administration, Maryland Save Our Streams, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and others will plant 40 redbud trees.
* Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Downs Park, craft show; free.
* Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Quiet Waters Park near Annapolis, no entrance fee, numerous activities including an 11 a.m. nature hike sponsored by the Sierra Club, a 1 p.m. composting workshop, and a 5 p.m. concert of the Billy's Recycled Music sponsored by Eastern Waste Industries.