Bicycle ride to promote Piney Run conservation

Route winds through land in Rural Legacy Program

June 07, 1999|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In an effort to show off Baltimore County's scenic northern valleys and promote rural conservation throughout the state, the Valleys Planning Council and Baltimore Bicycling Club plan a 36-mile ride through the Piney Run watershed this month.

The ride June 26 will wind through the rolling countryside, stopping at a dairy farm, a foxhound kennel and an alpaca farm.

"We designed it to showcase the variety of topography and the various kinds of agriculture in the area," said Jack Dillon, director of the Valleys Planning Council, a land preservation organization.

Although the main route is 36 miles long, riders can choose a 16-mile route or a 65-mile route.

Sponsors hope the ride will increase awareness of the state's Rural Legacy Program, an effort to protect farmland and natural resource areas by buying prized properties or the development rights on those parcels to keep them rural.

Piney Run was one of 14 Rural Legacy Areas to receive funding from the state last year, with the state awarding $3 million for the preservation of 800 acres. The county contributed $500,000 for the effort.

The Valleys Planning Council is seeking $5 million more from state Rural Legacy money this year, and in a recent plea for funding noted the planned bike ride -- the first public event to raise awareness of a Rural Legacy area.

"I think it is terrific so long as it doesn't disrupt the farmers or other residents," said Grant DeHart, director of Program Open Space, who helps administer the Rural Legacy Program.

While Rural Legacy is popular among politicians and constituents, DeHart said the extra publicity for the program is welcome. "The more people realize they have a new tool or resource to protect the land, the better," he said.

The Piney Run area, home to horse farms and grain fields, is popular among area bicyclists, said Frank Anders, immediate past president of the Baltimore Bicycling Club.

"That's one of the areas where we most enjoy cycling," he said. "It's close to where a lot of our members live."

As many as 200 cyclists might participate in the event, but the hilly terrain is not for the inexperienced rider, Dillon warned.

The registration fee for the ride is $20. Cyclists who register before June 15 receive a free T-shirt by Sun cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher.

Registration begins at 7: 30 a.m. the day of the event at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, 15311 Dover Road.

Pub Date: 6/07/99

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