Funds to preserve woods approved Public Works board OKs $312,080 for easement on Jabez Branch land

December 03, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The state agreed yesterday to preserve more than 15 acres of dense woods around the Jabez Branch to protect the only wild brook trout population in Maryland's coastal plain.

The Board of Public Works approved $312,080 for a conservation easement on land around the meandering creek in the west-central part of Anne Arundel County, Department of Natural Resources officials said.

This is the second conservation easement this year to preserve the recently restarted fish population in what experts in 1996 hailed as a model restoration project.

In March, the county paid $195,000 for a conservation easement on 29 acres southwest of the intersection of Interstate 97 and Route 32, and state officials said yesterday's acquisition will be added to that. The easement is held by the Maryland Environmental Trust.

Both easements are part of Holladay Park, a subdivision of 78 homes planned by South Shore Development Corp. Combined, the easements buffer the stream from Holladay Park homes and prevented about 20 houses from being built. The county will add $10,000 to yesterday's purchase.

The forest canopy cools the stream and filters pollutants that wash down the ravine from highways, suburban development and fields. Fish biologists say trout need cool, clean water to survive.

"Fish are an indication of water quality. This is a model approach not just for protecting this stream and these fish, but for other streams leading to the Chesapeake Bay," said John Surrick, DNR spokesman.

The implications are far-reaching. Of the 14,000 miles of streams and rivers in the state, nearly one-third are meandering brooks like the Jabez. Protecting them is crucial to the health of the bay, scientists say.

The project was was the largest of four approved for the county yesterday. The others were:

$145,000 to buy less than 5 acres next to Cape St. Clair Park to resolve a parking shortage and protect Little Magothy River waterfront.

$103,500 for 2 acres to expand Broadneck Park and the trail there.

$88,000 for less than a half-acre to link two parcels of South River Farm Park.

The money comes from Program Open Space, funds derived from real estate transfer taxes.

Trout had vanished from the Jabez Branch by 1990, killed by hot, oily highway runoff and poisoned by other runoff that contained sulfuric acid. DNR and State Highway Administration officials worked together to restore the stream. Biologists then moved RTC wild trout to Jabez from elsewhere in the state, and by 1995, the fish began reproducing.

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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