As we close out 2012, residents of Perry Hall and surrounding communities can look back with pride at the great strides made during the year with regard to the preservation of open spaces throughout the area. Back in February of this year, it was announced that Baltimore County achieved an important milestone -- namely the preservation of over 60,000 acres of rural and agricultural land.
During the past couple of weeks those of us living in Perry Hall were greeted by the news that over 38 acres of forested land at two locations received permanent protection in what represents the largest dedication of open space in more than a decade in our area. One of these tracts of land consists of about 30 acres of publicly-owned property to the north and south of the existing Indian Rock Park, creating an almost-uninterrupted greenway from East Joppa Road to White Marsh Boulevard.
This will become the Indian Rock Environmental Conservation Area. As a resident of the Nottingham Woods community (immediately adjacent to the new Indian Rock Environmental Conservation Area), I was thrilled to witness this development. I walk or drive past this greenway just about every day and enjoy the lush scenery and wildlife that reside there.
It is important to note that this particular land area is also home to a small branch stream that feeds into nearby Whitemarsh Run. The presence of this tributary makes it all the more significant that steps have been taken to protect this land. Having sufficient amounts of contiguous natural lands is vital to the survival of our environment. Open space such as this is required to protect our drinking water supplies and clean air, , preserve habitat for native plants and animal species, and provide nesting and breeding places for birds.
Greenways are unbroken chains of preserved open space surrounding stream corridors, headwaters, water recharge areas, and significant ecosystems. Designating greenways like the Indian Rock Environmental Conservation Area is important for several reasons. Our water supplies are protected by preserving land to create buffer zones and water recharge areas along rivers, streams, and creeks, preventing flash floods and keeping pollutants to a minimum. Contiguous properties provide better protection for these diverse types of waterways. Contiguous open space is also better at recharging more rainwater into our underground aquifers.
Wildlife, including migrating birds, requires a considerable number of intact acres of grassland or woodland in order to reproduce and thrive in significant numbers. The creation of bands of protected open space is an effective smart growth tool, creating natural green barriers against unchecked sprawl.
Ultimately, greenways like this help to promote smart growth by helping to minimize the construction of impermeable surfaces in critical areas where millions of cubic feet of rainwater become polluted runoff. There is probably no better way for us to begin a new year than by taking steps like this that help preserve our natural environment for generations to come.