10,000 trees to be planted on Hart-Miller

Group wants to improve dredge dumping area

April 19, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Hart-Miller Island, known best as a haven for boaters and a storage site for Chesapeake Bay dredge spoil, is about to get a face lift.

About 10,000 trees are being planted on Hart-Miller Islands Natural Resource Area by an environmental group using volunteers who are sailing to the island in state work boats each day this week.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a Towson-based environmental group, has arranged for about 20 volunteers to be shuttled to the island each day to plant seedlings on the south side of the island, where dredge material was hauled up from the bay and dumped about 20 years ago, said Ryan Davis, program director for the alliance.

"I think they'll grow pretty well out there," Davis said.

He said the trees are foot-high pine, oak and locust purchased with a $16,000 grant from American Forests, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group.

"We've had tree plantings before, but none with this many trees before," Davis said. The project is intended to highlight the island's potential, he said.

The tree planting occurs a month after completion of a $1.1 million beach restoration project in which 15 offshore stone breakwaters were constructed off the island. The breakwaters are meant to keep sand on the 3,000-foot recreational beach that each summer attracts thousands of boaters.

That project and the tree plantings are part of a state and Baltimore County effort to highlight the beauty of the productive little island off Rocky Point, say state and county officials.

"It's an area that we should treasure, and that's what we want people to realize," said George Perdikakis, director of the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management.

Thomas Kroen, chairman of Citizens Oversight Committee for Hart-Miller Island, said the breakwaters will guarantee the future of the island's sandy beach, which was eroding at the rate of 12 feet a year in some areas.

"This is something we've been fighting to get for a long time," he said.

The island has been used as a dredge disposal site -- under citizen protest -- for about 25 years.

But a state mandate has limited the amount of dredge that can be dumped there over the next 10 years, and Kroen said his group wants the island to become known more for its wildlife and recreational possibilities than as a home for dredge materials.

He said the group will be watching to ensure that state officials follow through with long-range plans to turn southern portions of the island into a wildlife refuge.

"We keep pretty close tabs on what goes on out there," he said.

Wayne Miskiewicz, president of the county Marine Trades Association, said thousands of boaters have been flocking to Hart-Miller for years. Boaters are attracted by the state park beach, which features camping on a northwestern section of the island, he said.

"On weekends in the summer, you'll see boats out there selling pit beef and pizza, it attracts so many boaters," said Miskiewicz, whose group represents 160 individuals and businesses in the marine trades.

Miskiewicz said boaters contribute huge amounts of cash to the economy.

A 1992 study found that marine-related activities generate $160 million of revenue in Baltimore County. Projects that restore the island, he said, will ensure such cash-generating activities continue.

Pub Date: 4/19/99

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