1,666-acre Scout camp to be preserved under U.S., county programs

Harford purchase qualifies land for federal protection

February 01, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Maryland's largest Boy Scout camp - a 1,666-acre complex that draws 25,000 campers a year and is home to several species of rare plants and threatened birds, including bald eagles - will be preserved under a combination of federal and county programs, officials said yesterday.

Harford County has paid $1.5 million for the development rights to 389 acres of Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation near Whiteford in northern Harford County, said Merrie Street, a county spokeswoman.

The county's purchase of the development rights makes the camp eligible for a federal forest preservation program, county and state officials said. Eventually, the remaining 1,277 acres of the camp will be preserved under the federal Forest Legacy Program, they said.

"This is pretty special," said Harford County Executive James M. Harkins. "It's not every day that we get to preserve 1,666 acres at a clip. ... It's enormous."

The $1,566,164 paid for Broad Creek is the largest single amount allotted by the county for preservation of open space, officials said.

The camp contains a 60-acre hemlock forest and 100 acres of forested serpentine barrens - a type of rock-rich land similar to Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills - where several rare species of plants grow, said Michael Huneke, a forest services project manager for Harford and Cecil counties at the state Department of Natural Resources.

The Broad Creek camp is also home to four threatened or endangered animal species, including the map turtle, bald eagle, cerulean warbler - another bird - and log perch, a species of fish, Huneke said.

"From an ecological standpoint, this preservation is very significant," he said, adding that the streams in the camp provide clean water for the area.

The Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America is having the property appraised so that it will be eligible for the first $1 million earmarked for preserving the camp under the Forest Legacy Program, said Reed Blom, director of support services for the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts.

Until the appraisal is complete, it's unclear how many years it will take to preserve the entire camp, he said.

The money from the sale of the development rights will be used to finance future improvements at the reservation, which is divided into camps surrounding a 50-acre lake. An endowment has been established so that the organization can only spend the interest from the sales of development rights, Blom said.

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