College, Ymca, Moton Collaborate To Create Nature Trail For Hiking

Three-mile Path In The Works Since '93

April 28, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Earth Day celebrants at Carroll Community College last weekend had to imagine a nature trail as they hiked through a field, woods and crossed a stream.

But before Earth Day 1998, they'll be able to see the trail.

A committee has been working since 1993 to build a hiking, jogging and nature appreciation trail that will run from the Carroll County YMCA south of Westminster north to Westminster High School. The committee includes representatives from the community college, Robert Moton Elementary School, the YMCA and county government.

The group plans to have the three-mile trail mowed, interpretive signs posted, birdhouses erected and bridges built over a stream by this fall.

A trail hike, cleanup of debris and an environmental scavenger hunt were highlights of Earth Day activities at the college Saturday.The event was sponsored by the Phoenix Coalition, a community college environmental organization.

The YMCA has been involved in planning the trail. "The aim is to have an intergenerational activity for people to use for fitness as well as outdoors," said Karen Farley, YMCA member service manager.

Mowing the trail and installing birdhouses will help "people realize we do have a trail," said Mary Kemp, committee chairwoman and an assistant professor of health and wellness at the community college.

Plans include providing fliers to explain the trail's environmental features, trees to line the trail, a wetlands in place of the college's storm water pond, a butterfly garden on the elementary school grounds and possibly fitness stations.

"We just want to invite the community [to use the trail]," Kemp said.

She hopes hikers, joggers, cross-country skiers and "moms with strollers" will use the trail. Where possible, it will be accessible to the disabled.

The idea of transforming the college's storm water management pond into a wetlands came from fifth-grade teacher Brent Whalen. He was inspired one morning as he sipped coffee on the loading dock at Robert Moton Elementary School and watched Canada geese fly off the nearby pond.

"I thought that would be a really neat idea for my kids to do," he said.

The 26 students in his 1995-1996 fifth-grade class researched native plants that could grow well in the pond and won a $1,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to pay for waders, nets and plants.

Students can't start planting until the pond is dredged and reconfigured. The work, a county government project, is not expect- ed to be completed before fall 1998.

The committee is a volunteer effort that relies on donations, Kemp said. Architect Joseph Mason of Probst-Mason, the firm that designed the community college, donated his services to lay out the trail.

The committee received a $2,500 grant from the Carroll Community College Foundation to pay for bluebird houses, trees and interpretive signs. Kemp said the group is looking for volunteers to build the birdhouses.

Fitness stations may be added, "but we're not going to be able to do that at the start," Farley said.

She said the YMCA's section of the trail needs only markers to be ready for use. It will run from the pavilion on the grounds east across the field to a woods near Route 97.

Pub Date: 4/28/97

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