Md. starts trail stewardship program Aim is to increase awareness, participation

July 28, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

According to a recent study by the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America, 75 percent of people 16 and older participate in some form of "muscle-powered" outdoor recreation and the number of participants is increasing.

Nontraditional outdoor sports such as mountain biking, in-line skating and rock or mountain climbing are growing most rapidly, according to the survey.

The study, which did not survey hunting and fishing activity, found that backpacking and tent camping maintained growth rates of 12 and 11 percent in 1994.

However, in-line skating increased 513 percent over a five-year period, mountain biking has increased 20 percent per year for five years and mountain and rock climbing increased 32 percent in 1994 alone.

While numbers of participants in some sports are relatively small -- 6.2 million mountain or rock climbers and 3 million "avid trail cyclists," for example -- the study found the trend to be increased emphasis on outdoor activity close to home on public lands.

The greatest threat to outdoor recreation, the study found, is "inadequate support for the acquisition, maintenance and operation" of recreation areas.

In Maryland, where state, county and city programs acquire and manage tracts of public lands for recreational use, a statewide Trail Stewardship Program has been started to increase public awareness and participation.

"Maryland's state forests and parks have hundreds of miles through all types of scenery," Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin said recently. "Our new program offers people who enjoy the use and beauty of these trails a way to volunteer to maintain and educate people about the trails and to give money toward their continued maintenance and upkeep."

The Northern Central Rail Trail in Northern Baltimore County, for example, supports more than 465,000 visitors per year, according to DNR. Birdwatchers. Bikers. Hikers. Photographers. Fishermen.

The trail system also creates open stretches of changing habitat used by wildlife.

Footprints Only, Inc., a non-profit organization, is sponsoring the trails program, and tax-deductible donations are being sought for trail maintenance, operation and user education programs. Funds also would be used for improved accessibility and ranger patrols.

Volunteer workers also are being recruited for maintenance and improvement projects and educational programs. If you have time or money to give, contact DNR's State Forest and Park Service.

Whitbread update

The number of syndicates registered for the 1997-1998 Whitbread Round the World Race stands at 41 boats from 17 countries, including Chessie Racing, the Chesapeake Bay sailing team based in Baltimore.

In all there are six U.S. syndicates registered.

Whitbread Chesapeake, which is organizing the race stopover in Baltimore and Annapolis in April of 1998, has opened a new office in the World Trade Center and is seeking donations of office equipment and supplies.

The office address is World Trade Center, Suite 623, Baltimore 21202.

Fly fishing clinic

Philip Krista, who guides fly fishing parties on the Patapsco River, is organizing a free saltwater fly casting class for advanced adults interested in learning more about using rods 10 feet or longer.

The class, which will be held Aug. 24 at a site to be determined, will be limited to 10 students.

Also teaching with Krista will be Carol Stevenson, fly casting instructor and river guide from Arlington, Va.; Phillip Gay, master fly caster from the Federation of Fly Fishers; and Nils Maehle, European casting champion.

Information: (410) 461-3007.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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