To Preserve the Bay, Partnerships are the Way

In this week's "Dock of the Bay," we tell you about a success story in saving sensitive land along the Chesapeake.

We at New Bay Times had the pleasure last week of watching dozens of volunteers seeding Bay grasses along shoreline that could have been private backyards by now.

But this park never would have evolved if locals hadn't made a persuasive case to the former owner and then moved to forge partnerships with the dedication of ospreys building spring nests.

The former owner of the land, Steuart Chaney, had the foresight to abandon a plan to sell the two-acre plot for homes. Anne Arundel County did what people wanted done with their tax dollars - bought the land and thereby saved it. Since then, a host of volunteers has emerged to plan a park that will be enjoyed forever.

Partnerships and land trusts like this are valuable for many reasons. With so much of the Chesapeake shore in private hands, access points are few and far between. We all know that the Bay is a magic place, but that reputation does people little good if we can't get near it.

Along our part of the Chesapeake, we are swiftly arriving at a time when the remaining shoreline parcels either will be developed or saved. And combatting developers and their lawyers is no easy task: Ask members of the South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACReD), who went on trial in Washington this week in a defamation suit that grew out of the drive to save Franklin Point on the Shady Side Peninsula from a 477-acre development.

Whether you're dealing with two acres or 500, saving land can be like shoving boulders up a hill. People talk about their "property rights" and call you radicals and job-killers. Government agencies, overrun with funding requests, don't return your phone calls.

Big environmental groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tell you that they don't get involved in local land-use squabbles.

Evenings and weekends, when others are home with their families, you're down the street in someone's kitchen editing arguments you hope are compelling and planning the next boulder-shove.

But the payoff can be huge, even on small pieces of land like the work-in-progress Rose Haven park.

Those who fought to save it and are working to shape it can relax along the shoreline and watch heron fishing in tall grass where a jet-ski might have been idling. With that thought, they can exhale and say: "Yes, it was worth what we went through."

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VolumeVI Number 21
May 28 - June 3, 1998
New Bay Times

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