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South River Greenway Initiative

First of all, what is a "greenway"?

A greenway, to put it simply, is a large area that is mostly undeveloped. It is mostly nature intact - large tracts of forests, areas of wetland, and prolific wildlife. The South River Greenway is located at the headwaters of the South River - hence, it is important that this area stay as healthy as it is, as whatever happens upstream affects downstream. It spans across a few zip codes, like Crownsville, Gambrills, Davidsonville, and Annapolis. We think the South River is a wonderful place, and would like to keep it just the way it is - thats why we're working with its landowners to put conservation easements on their land - ones that they are happy with and that keep the rural and natural character the area is known for.

What is The South River Greenway Initiative?

South River Greenway Project Location

The South River Greenway Initiative is a public/private partnership to preserve land in the headwaters of the South River.  A portion of the preserved land will be privately held and a portion will provide passive recreation opportunities such as hiking on publicly-owned natural areas. The Greenway is roughly bounded by General's Highway on the east, Rt. 3 on the north, Davidsonville Rd. on the west, and Rt. 50 on the south. The heart of the Greenway is a wooded 630-acre parcel that has been acquired by Anne Arundel County for use as a public park with hiking trails. This park is known as the Bacon Ridge Natural Area.

The South River Greenway includes two of the largest forested tracts remaining in Anne Arundel County. One hundred miles of streams in four distinct watersheds (Bacon Ridge Branch, Broad Creek, North River, Tarnans Branch) flow through the Greenway into the South River. Land use includes farms, subdivisions, extensive wetlands, and several thousand acres of undisturbed forests which provide vital protection to the South River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

The South River Greenway project has components of land protection, habitat assessment, habitat restoration, and community outreach.

 

Some facts about the Greenway:

Natural Resources

  • The undeveloped land provides watershed protection for the South River and the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Undeveloped forests cover 10,000 acres, of which 6,000 are identified by Maryland DNR as natural resource forest hubs and corridors, and 2,400 are interior forest.
  • MD DC Audubon identified a portion of the Greenway as an Important Bird Area. Eighteen species of Forest Interior Birds (including several species at risk) nest in the Greenway.
  • According to a report of biodiversity in the Mid Atlantic region by US Fish & Wildlife Service and the US Geological Survey, the Greenway is a regionally important area for reptiles and birds.
  • The Greenway is a high priority forest block as identified by MD DNR’s Green Print Program and the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Resource Lands Assessment Report.
  • In 2009, the Greenway was chosen as one of the top five regional conservation priorities by the Washington Smart Growth Alliance.
  • The Greenway contains a historical spawning area for migratory fish, including yellow perch and river herring.
  • Fifteen different wetland types cover 800 acres in the Greenway.

 

mill stone

History

  • The Bacon Ridge Natural Area contains three 19th century historic archaeological sites, including one large mill stone that has been recovered by Anne Arundel County.  The mill race and many foundations are still visible. An 1878 map indicates
  • Prehistoric Indian sites are frequently found in the terraces overlooking Bacon Ridge Branch.
  • Colonial barges once plied up Bacon Ridge Branch several miles above Route 50 to load hogs for shipment to England; the remains of a colonial wharf are still visible.
  • Crownsville Hospital opened in 1911 to serve African American patients needing psychiatric care. Today there remains a hospital cemetery with over 1,800 patient’s graves, marked only by numbers.

 

For a more indepth look at the past efforts in the SRG by SRLT and it's partners look here