The scenic and pristine Mattawoman Creek. Chesapeake Bay Program.

Smart Growth Maryland Land Conservation Success Report

11/07/2018
By Kimberly Golden Brandt

As a result of the efforts of the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County, which is led by Smart Growth Maryland, 208-acres of environmentally sensitive and culturally significant land has been preserved forever.

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland that advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns. A major component of this campaign is focused on implementing smart growth policies at the local level across Maryland.

In Charles County, one of the state’s fastest growing counties, Smart Growth Maryland leads the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County (SGACC). The alliance is a coalition of local and state organizations advocating for a smart, sustainable future for Charles County. In addition to Smart Growth Maryland, the steering committee includes representatives of Chapman Forest Foundation, the Conservancy for Charles County, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Nanjemoy-Potomac Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group, and Southern Maryland Audubon Society.

The coalition has long advocated for preservation of the 208 acres of high-quality forest known as the “Tech Park” property. As a result of advocacy led by Smart Growth Maryland, on October 30, 2018, Commissioner President Peter Murphy and Commissioners Ken Robinson and Amanda Stewart voted  to permanently preserve this property for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to Charles County. The property was originally purchased by the County to be a technology park. A public-private partnership to develop the property was entered into in 2008 and dissolved in 2012 for lack of demand, which was affirmed in a market analysis commissioned by the County Commissioners in 2014.

Map of the proposed tech park located on environmentally sensitive land.

Located in the Pomonkey area of the western county, the property is laced with streams, including the headwaters of an important fish spawning tributary of Mattawoman Creek.  The remarkable aquatic biodiversity on this site earned it Maryland Department of Natural Resources “Stronghold Watershed” designation. The property also provides critical habitat for Forest Interior Dwelling Species (FIDS), which require large forested areas to breed successfully and maintain a viable population. FIDS common in these woods include colorful songbirds, as well as woodpeckers, owls and hawks.

While the county will continue to own the property, a conservation easement will be held by the Conservancy for Charles County. The conservation easement allows the county to use the property as a public park for passive recreation and public education. Activities likely to be allowed on the property include bird watching, photography and orienteering. Improvements could include trails, boardwalks and pedestrian bridges for walking, running and bicycling. An environmental education center is also being considered – which would be a great asset for students at the adjacent Matthew Henson Middle School and J.C. Parks Elementary School and other students throughout the county.

Smarter Growth Alliance of Charles County Website

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Kimberly Golden Brandt · Director of Smart Growth Maryland

Kim Brandt leads Smart Growth Maryland, a project of Preservation Maryland, dedicated to the preservation of forests, farms and open space, and revitalization of Maryland’s cities and towns.

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