Visitors to Howard County's main government campus in Ellicott City will now have the opportunity to take an educational outdoor stroll whenever official work gets too stressful.
District 4 County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty and Howard County Forestry Board chair Patricia Valentine on April 28 unveiled an arboretum of more than 40 different trees on the 24-acre campus.
The arboretum is the seventh in the county and uses informational signs to teach visitors about the trees on the site, which includes, as its focal point, a Wye Oak seedling planted in 1988 near the campus entrance.
"This is all about stewardship, and the council's been called on these past two years to make some very important decisions here in Howard County having to do with land use and stormwater," Sigaty said. "And we recognized that, as we did it ... we needed citizens to step up and be willing to participate.
"I look on creating these arboretums as an opportunity to educate about the trees ... and hopefully we can take it one step further" by inspiring people to plant trees in their own yards, she added.
The project is a collaboration between county government and the Howard County Forestry Board, which works to promote forest conservation and responsible forest management.
"Trees are the lungs of the Earth," Valentine said. "By working cooperatively with county staff ... we are showcasing these valuable and beautiful trees with a permanent exhibit."
The website hcforest.sailorsite.net offers a virtual tour of the arboretum with an interactive online map. Printed maps can also be requested at the front desk in the Howard building.
County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement that Howard works "hard to protect our natural spaces.
"I think people would be surprised to learn that there is so much diversity and preservation, even in unexpected places," he said. "I truly hope visitors to the George Howard building will take a moment to walk around and appreciate what we have."