In 2020 the FMSP awarded 15 small grants to Maryland State Parks across the state. These projects were completed in the spring of 2021. The following is a recap of these projects.
Assateague State Park (ASP) – Pollinator Garden
The goal of this project was to enhance several areas of Assateague State Park, including supporting various species of pollinators and creating a community supported garden. Many visitors come to Assateague for the beach, and their various pollinator gardens will offer a new opportunity for visitors to interact with nature, whether by learning about native species or the annual migration of Monarch butterflies through the park.
Volunteer Carol Pamer, who assisted with plantings at the ASP Spring Pollinator Festival, shared:
“You are transforming a drive-by site into something that will be educational, beautiful and good for pollinators and other critters. I stopped by on my way out and walked around. The plants looked happy. I am looking forward to seeing them as they grow.”
Deep Creek Lake State Park – Sang Run Orchard
Maryland Conservation Corps crew, Deep Creek Lake State Park Staff, and seven volunteers from the Mountain Laurel Garden Club worked together to establish of new the Sang Run Orchard Trail at Deep Creek Lake State Park, highlighting the region’s historic fruit-growing industry.
Park Manager Ranger Roy Musselwhite shared:
“This Project will highlight Appalachian culture and history as a part of our interpretive programs and events. We will take the opportunity to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and how they play a key role in our food chain. Most of all, we look forward to the day we get to watch a child pick a piece of fruit directly from the tree and see their smile as they make the connection with how forests provide the healthy and sweet foods we enjoy.”
Merkle State Park – Scales and Tales
Merkle MCC Crew built mobile animal carts that will help rangers bring to life the animals of Merkle for visitors of all ages.
Merkle State Park – Pollinator Garden
Merkle MCC Crew planted roughly once acre of native pollinators which is the beginning plot of what will be the new pollinator trail. The trail will lead visitors from the Visitor Center to the Patuxent River.
Elk Neck State Park – Nature Center
The funding received from this program enabled the purchase of five interpretive displays for the Nature Center at Elk Neck State Park that help tell the story of Turkey Point, the lighthouse, and life as a lightkeeper.
“We are confident the displays will be an integral part of interpreting history when the Nature Center reopens, said Elk Neck State Park Manager, Mary Ironside. “The signs turned out great and they will be a great resource for the public to learn the history associated with Elk Neck State Park. We all look forward to having them framed and placed once the Nature Center reopens.”
Patapsco Valley State Park – Pollinator Garden
With our support, the Maryland Conservation Corps at Patapsco Valley State Park built a new pollinator garden outside of the Headquarters building. Funding supplied zip ties, wood stakes, fencing and pollinator plants from Meadow Farms Nurseries and Clark’s Ace.
Pocomoke River State Park – Trail of Change
“This project has been a long time in the making and a significant part of a larger project to maintain the legacy of the Trail of Change at Pocomoke River State Park. The standard puncheon (boardwalk) that was constructed will provide an elevated walkway for visitors to traverse to stay dry, while allowing for a natural flow of water in the swamp. The newly constructed puncheon will once again provide up close access to the northernmost bald cypress swamp in the United States for years to come.
Teachers used to avoid this trail, now they’ll line up to educate students here. We’ve reconnected our visitors with a unique experience and a diverse ecosystem. This was the first trail I hiked as a kid and now we can ensure it’s accessible for the next generation.”
~Park Manager Curtis Dale
Tawes Garden – Trail Renovation of Western Maryland section of the garden
The Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden in Annapolis, MD forms the campus of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This 5-acre landscaped garden and arboretum is open to the public and provides tranquil green space within the Annapolis city limits. Our funding enabled the Friends of Tawes Garden to renovate the “Western Maryland” section of the garden to great relief expressed by the Board and 60+ volunteers who care for the garden who have been long wanting to fix this portion of the garden.
Susquehanna State Park – Hidden Valley Trail Puncheon (Boardwalk)
“The purpose of this project was to replace an old, deteriorated puncheon (boardwalk) with a new, more sturdy one. It sits over a very small stream and allows park patrons to access a beautiful, secluded part of Rocks State Park that parallels Deer Creek. Myself, along with several seasonal Rangers at Rocks built the puncheon and later installed it at the creek crossing. Collaborating with several staff members was great and teamwork makes the dream work.
Statewide – Monarch Butterfly Traveling Trunk
“After developing the original Small Grant proposal to Friends of Maryland State Parks and doing an online presentation for a Virtual Monarch Festival (during the COVID-19 pandemic) a generous donor wished to provide additional funding for three additional (identical) traveling Monarch Trunks so that each region of the state could have one available. [Thereby increasing the Small Grant fourfold].
This generosity has certainly expanded our reach, especially during times when we may not have adequate staffing to support programs. In addition, several Maryland Conservation Corps Crews developed similar lending trunks as part of their 2021 Interpretive Training. I do believe that during the pandemic we have successfully started a new library of resources to help further our educational programs.”
~Melissa Boyle Acuti, Chief of Interpretation, MPS
Statewide Snorkeling Program
“When we look at a river from the surface, most of what we see is whatever is reflected back at us. But if we break that reflective plane and look beneath the surface, a whole other world is revealed. A world that contains incredibly beautiful, intricate amazing life that most people don’t know even exists.”
~Keith Williams, Freshwater Journeys
“All Snorkeling Program Supplies have been acquired for the Statewide Snorkeling Trunk. They are available to any State Park that wishes to lead an educational snorkeling program on-site, for the general public or organized groups, including youth. During our Spring 2021 Virtual Interpretive Retreat one of our guest speakers was Keith Williams with Freshwater Journeys, who inspired the snorkeling in the State Parks Program. Now that we are re-opening (post pandemic) we are hoping to also do an in-person training so that we are able to make additional staff interested in and familiar with the program and supplies that are now available.”
~Maryland State Park Service
Tuckahoe State Park – Diamondback Terrapin Enclosure
“This wonderful terrapin exhibit in the Martinak Nature Center is really going to help park visitors learn the importance of protecting Maryland’s wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay. Our park staff greatly appreciate the work conducted by the Maryland Conservation Corps crew who created this long-lasting legacy project for the park. They should be very proud of the work they have accomplished because it looks fantastic.”
~Ranger Ashlee Reinke, Tuckahoe Program Coordinator and Scales & Tales Program Manager
Tuckahoe State Park – Tree Planting
“Time spent among trees is never time wasted.” – Garrett Dickel, Bartlett Tree Company
Garrett lead a volunteer group that spent four hours helping park staff at Tuckahoe plant native species in two park locations, with funding provided by Friends of Maryland State Parks.
“The goal of this project was to beautify several areas of the Tuckahoe State Park Complex, including pollinator gardens at Wye Oak State Park and Martinak State Park and day use and campground locations at both Tuckahoe State Park and Martinak State Park. While the parks in our complex have a good biodiversity of plant species, planting more native plants as well as pollinator plants will help increase the biodiversity of the species seen in our parks and make our parks more visually appealing to our visitors.”
~Project Manager, Tuckahoe State Park