Grants promote bay awareness

National Park Service earmarks $327,538 for projects including trails, educational signs

Baltimore & Region

September 19, 2005|By Sarah Abruzzese | Sarah Abruzzese,sun reporter

Kayakers will soon be able to paddle and explore the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge via an educational water trail paid for by one of four federal grants to be announced today.

At today's ceremony at the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, the National Park Service will award a total of $327,538 to the Gwynns Falls Trail Council, the Baltimore Maritime Museum, the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the USS Constellation Museum. The groups - which are required to raise matching funds - will put the money toward restoration work, trails and the improvement of educational materials relating to the Chesapeake Bay.

The "projects are intended to help people explore and understand the depth and connections there are to the Chesapeake throughout the entire region," said Jonathan Doherty, director of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, which is distributing the grants for the park service.

At the Eastern Neck refuge in Kent County, water paths and walking trails will make it easier for residents to appreciate the area, said Angie Ashley, Chesapeake Bay program manager for the National Aquarium.

Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the refuge, the aquarium is overseeing the work, using its $83,437 grant. Trails will have signs that describe the wildlife and habitat, including restoration projects and a wetlands viewing area.

The Gwynns Falls Trail Council will use its $112,000 grant to add more information along the 14-mile trail. Through a previous grant from the Gateways Network, educational signs were installed. The $14 million trail was dedicated this year, and plans are to extend it 1 1/2 miles to Interstate 70.

The council will add additional educational panels, including ones with environmental facts, and develop histories of neighborhoods along the trail, said Guy Hager, director of parks, streams and green communities at the Parks and People Foundation. The Gwynns Falls Trail Council is a public-private partnership operating under the umbrella of the Parks and People Foundation.

A first-time Gateways Network grant recipient, the Baltimore Maritime Museum is using its $107,000 to do preservation work and create educational materials for the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse at the Inner Harbor. The planned exhibits will highlight the role of lighthouses throughout the bay as well as tell their history. The museum's executive director, John Kellett, said work should be completed next year, which marks the lighthouse's 150th anniversary.

With its $25,101 grant, the USS Constellation Museum will create a new exhibit highlighting the relationship between the bay and the 151-year-old ship. "It's an opportunity to really showcase the ship, the Chesapeake and Baltimore history," said Chris Rowsom, the executive director of the museum.

Gateways Network is a partnership created by the National Park Service to coordinate efforts for the bay and its river network. More than 140 parks, museums, wildlife refuges and other groups from Pennsylvania to Virginia are members.

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