Our View: Trail Building and Public Access in Bacon Ridge
As many of you may have seen in a recent Capital article, a small group has tried to inject politics into public access to Bacon Ridge Natural Area. It is important that this unfortunate effort in no way dishonors the hundreds of hours of volunteer work expended by county residents in building the public hiker/biker trails. These trails are enjoyed by hundreds of bikers, runners and hikers. Current issues aside, Scenic Rivers Land Trust (SRLT) fully supports the continued volunteer effort for responsibly extending the trails.
I, for one, spent several Sundays helping to build the Bacon Ridge trails during the first two phases. I also regularly enjoy running the trails. I know that both County Executive Steve Schuh and Steuart Pittman support the volunteers and champion more public access. Both recognize that the county has a moral and legal obligation to both serve its citizens and protect our public spaces, history, and natural resources.
The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) and SRLT – the two co-holders of the Bacon Ridge conservation easement – have approved every request by the county to allow trail building. Those approvals came with modest conditions. SRLT was informed by the county that the start of Phase 3 had potential violations of these conditions, and the county was going to pause the volunteer effort until the problems were remedied. Unlike a park, Bacon Ridge is designated as a Natural Area, meaning that additional protections are in place to safeguard its natural resources. Legally, SRLT and MET are obligated to advise the county so that it can stay in compliance with the conservation easement that protects the valuable cultural and natural resources of this beautiful Natural Area.
We look forward to additional trails in the near future and fully support the effort to construct these trails under the careful guidance of the County’s Department of Recreation and Parks. We well recognize the increased quality of life that access to Bacon Ridge brings to our community. For those interested in more detail, I have attached a brief article.
Scenic Rivers Land Trust