William A. Krebs, 60, led land conservation program for state DNR

March 28, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William A. Krebs, who as director of Program Open Space at the state Department of Natural Resources had a major effect on land conservation in Maryland, died of colon cancer Tuesday at his farm in Monterville, W.Va. He was 60.

A rugged outdoorsman, Mr. Krebs worked diligently and efficiently for land preservation while leading the open space program from 1972 until retiring in 1991.

His work included preserving land, developing state parks and managing wildlife and natural resource areas.

"I can go to a map of Maryland and point to every county and see something he has done," said Mike Nelson, director of land and water conservation for the DNR.

"Bill helped make the program one of the finest land conservation programs in the nation. He had a real vision and was able to put to- gether the financial transactions that made it happen. He didn't do it in a flashy way. He was a very quiet man and got more done by avoiding the spotlight," he said.

"His legacy is incredible. He decided to devote his life to protecting the environment and providing parks for Marylanders and those who visit the state," said Ken M. Alban Jr., who worked with him for 13 years at the DNR, and is now Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks administrator for capital projects.

"He was also an inspiration for all those who worked for him. He thought outside of the box and gave his employees the encouragement to do the same," he said.

"He performed miracles from the ocean to the mountains and formed partnerships with land trusts, the Nature Conservancy, Conservation Fund and the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association," said Sandi L. Trent, assistant regional administrator for Program Open Space.

Some of Mr. Krebs' accomplishments included a seven-county project that protected the Patuxent River and an adjoining watershed area that extends from Frederick to St. Mary's counties.

Other projects included the Days Cove, a reclaimed 2,200-acre former sand and gravel mine that is now part of Gunpowder Falls State Park; and Black Marsh, a 1,130-acre area along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Back River.

"In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, he has directed the preservation of some of Maryland's most important natural areas, including Mattawoman Creek Natural Environment Area, Hickory Point Wildland on the Pocomoke River, and a score of pristine Potomac River Islands," according to a 1985 Nature Conservancy Award.

"He always saw six ways of accomplishing what he wanted to do. He was fantastic -- no matter how cantankerous or obstreperous someone was, Bill could talk and work with them," said Torrey C. Brown, former DNR secretary.

"He never sought credit for anything, and all he cared about was getting a project done. A lot of time, you didn't know until later that he was the architect of a project," he said.

Born and raised in Westminster, he was a 1959 graduate of Westminster High School. He attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studied highway engineering. He worked as a surveyor until joining the old State Roads Commission in 1960.

He was property section leader for the state Department of Game and Inland Fish from 1966 until joining Program Open Space.

A former Arnold resident, he moved in 1992 to Hidden Valley Farm, his 100-acre farm in Monterville, where he raised cattle and chickens, grew vegetables and herbs, and made maple syrup.

His marriage to the former Sondra Alban ended in divorce.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Grace Lutheran Church, 21 Carroll St., Westminster.

He is survived by his wife of 21 years, the former Tolly Peuleche; daughters Kimberly Zaranski of Finksburg and Andrea Abend of New Windsor; brothers Donald Krebs and Michael Krebs, both of Westminster; sisters Patricia Snowberger and Ginger Ireland, both of Westminster, Carol Childers of Taneytown and Debra Shaulis of Zebulon, N.C.; two grandchildren; and his stepmother, Mary Krebs of Westminster.

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