The Patapsco Heritage Greenway wasn’t planning to host a trails workshop until next year. But then, said executive director Lindsey Baker, during its annual summit in March, everybody talked about trails.
“I think [we had] four different discussions, and every group, no matter what they were ‘supposed to’ be talking about, talked about trails and their connected-ness in the valley,” Baker said.
To that end, her organization will be leading a one-day workshop June 11 to focus on the idea of trails as a source of economic development, she said.
Trail connections are “at the top of the list of needs for the Patapsco Valley,” Baker said.
The ability to get from one area of the valley without having to take a major road was an important topic, she noted. As an example, she mentioned the Guinness brewery in Halethorpe. It’s a major draw, and it would be great to develop trail connections so visitors could travel to the brewery without having to get in their vehicle.
“I was really struck by the idea of bringing together different stakeholders to have conversations about the importance of trails and the impact of trails, besides the normal idea of, ‘Well, I get to go out, I get to enjoy nature,’” Baker said, adding that she’s hoping to discuss tourism and economic development surrounding trails.
The June 11 workshop is free and open to the public, though registration is required online. The workshop is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum.
Presentations will focus on the impact of trails, potential funding for trails and trail building. Lunch will be provided by Little Market Cafe. Speakers are scheduled to include Patrick Wojahn, of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Doug Reigner, of theAllegheny Trail Alliance, Aaron Marcavitch, of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, and a representative from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
Parts of the Patapsco Valley State Park were severely damaged by flooding last May. The popular Grist Mill Trail, which runs along the Patapsco River on the Baltimore County side, was almost entirely washed out.
Local legislators who toured the damaged park shortly after the flooding last year called the damage “extensive” and said rebuilding would require “a lot” of capital resources. Park officials have not released a cost estimate for repairing the trails, but said it would involve “technical” work, like repairing tunnels and bridges.