By Chuck MacDonald
When you have an American classic, you had better take good care of it. If that classic is the Baltimore Annapolis Trail, a paved route that stretches 13 miles across Anne Arundel County, one should look after it like it was a classic car, a historic home, or a famous painting.
The B& A Trail has been named to the Trails Hall of Fame by the national bicycling organization Rails to Trails Conservancy. Each year approximately 1.5 million people use the trail for walking, biking, jogging, or roller blading.
The Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails is an organization dedicated to helping take care of this classic, along with the approximately 80 miles of paved trails and 45 miles of proposed trails. The Friends mission is to promote, protect and enhance the trails in Anne Arundel County.
Sue Payne, a full-time ranger for the county, was on hand to recognize the Trailblazer volunteers with awards.
"Our Trailblazers and other volunteers serve as additional eyes and ears for the rangers and for the county." she said at the annual meeting for the Friends on April 26. "We are very proud to be associated with them. They realize what a treasure these trails are."
The dedication of the Friends is remarkable. Tom Caraker logged over 600 hours on the trail during 2010, covering a total of 4,393 miles. Another member of the Trailblazers, Ewell Harmon spent 181 hours on the trail, traversing more than 2,000. All told the Trailblazers documented 181 hours on the trail covering 13,935 miles.
In addition to watching out for problems, the Friends organization worked to beautify the B&A, BWI and WB&A Trails. Ryan Snader designed and implemented a pet garden as his Eagle Scout project. This is a garden of plants and engraved bricks given by owners to honor or memorialize their pets, located on the B&A Trail in Severna Park near the Veterinary Hospital.
A couple from Piney Orchard gave a drinking fountain (first one on the WB&A Trail), bench and garden in memory of their daughter. In addition, five benches were purchased and installed at five different locations. These benches were made possible by donations given to the Friends in memory of five different people
For the last four years the Girl Scout Troop 96 of Central Maryland has maintained a rose garden at Odenton’s Babington Green located on the WB &A Trail at the junction of Odenton Rd. and Piney Orchard Parkway in Odenton. The girl scouts also planted daffodils and have kept a Christmas tree trimmed at the location during December. Odenton’s Babington is a project of the Friends of AA County Trail. The troop was recognized at the Friends meeting and an engraved brick will be planted in the walkway in their honor.
The recipients of the 2010 Good Neighbor Awards included the Glen Burnie Seventh Day Adventist Church for maintaining the Sun Station at the Stan Lebar Plaza, which is part of the Planet Walk. The Chesapeake Natives also were recognized for protecting the lupine, a rare flower that grows along the side of the B&A Trail.
At the meeting, Rick Anthony, director of Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, was introduced and welcomed as the new director.
Mark Garrity, Parks Administrator for AA County, also applauded the work of the Friends and outlined plans for additional trail work. Three major projects are scheduled for development in the near future, but still are dependent on raising funds to match state or federal grants as well as meet Maryland State Highway Administration approvals.
The projects include Broadneck Trail, Phase 1A, with an estimated start date of December, 2011. This 1.2 mile long phase could be completed in the summer of 2012. The first phase of the South Shore Trail could begin construction in October 2012 if conditions are met. Phase 2 of the WB&A Trail calls for a 30-car parking lot to be built. This project is also contingent on state funding. The Jonas Green Park has plans for a nitrogen septic system to be installed in the fall of this year.
Elizabeth Wyble, who has been president of the Friends of AA County Trails for 12 years, described this past year as one of remarkable achievement in spite of a down economy and declining revenues. “It is because of the membership monies and donations that make it possible to serve our mission. We have a fantastic group of volunteers and dedicated Board of Directors," she said. "We're proud of what we have accomplished this past year."
For more information, visit www.friendsofaatrails.org, or call Elizabeth Wyble at 410-695-1137. Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization of dedicated volunteers helping to promote, protect and enhance the multi modal trails of Anne Arundel Count.
For information on the Planet Walk and dedication of Stan LeBar Plaza, go to the April 10 posting at http://breathingfreeinbowie.blogspot.com.
*Editor's Note: The headline and dek on this submission was changed on May 9, 2011.