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Izaak Walton League’s new facility on preserved land in Edgewood will be subject of community meeting Thursday

The Izaak Walton League’s Harford County chapter has plans to develop a new headquarters building, as well as a trail network and kayak launch, on preserved land in Edgewood which the chapter recently purchased from the Harford Land Trust.

The land is the historic 48-acre Welzenbach Farm off of Willoughby Beach Road. The property is adjacent to a county park and the 350-acre Bosley Conservancy owned by the local Izaak Walton League chapter, which purchased it from the Land Trust Feb. 25. The purchase happened after years of discussion between representatives of the two organizations regarding “a shared vision of expanding public recreation and conservation in Edgewood,” according to a recent press release from the Land Trust.

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“The property’s location will allow us to manage events in the marsh and expand our conservation and educational community programming and volunteer opportunities,” Mike Horsmon, Izaak Walton League chapter president, said in a statement.

Members of the community can learn more about the project, as well as the history of the Welzenbach Farm, during an online forum at 6 p.m. Thursday. People should register for the forum online, and they can submit questions in advance via email to shummer@harfordlandtrust.org or Iwla.harford@gmail.com.

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The local Izaak Walton League organization, which was founded in 1950 and promotes conservation and outdoor recreation, does not currently have a chapter house. The state purchased its former property off of Woodsdale Road in Abingdon more than a year ago as the Maryland Transportation Authority extends its Express Toll Lanes on I-95 into Harford County, Horsmon said Monday.

The chapter used the proceeds from the state to purchase the Harford Land Trust property, which the trust acquired in 2015 with funding support from Aberdeen Proving Ground. The land trust and APG have partnered in the past to purchase other properties near the Harford County Army post, through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, in order to preserve open space and create a buffer between the testing area and neighboring communities.

Harford Land Trust can then take the revenue from its sale of the Welzenbach Farm and use it to purchase and preserve more land within Harford County, Horsmon said.

“It’s a pretty big success story,” he said of the state’s purchase of the chapter’s former property. “It benefited us and it benefited Harford Land Trust, and it’s really going to benefit the local community as well.”

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The land trust retains a conservation easement on the farm, which ensures it will be preserved as open space. The property has been used for activities such as a stream restoration project — part of Otter Point Creek, a Bush River tributary, runs through the land — plus a tree-planting event in 2016 as Harford County celebrated Arbor Day, according to the HLT news release.

“This project ticks all of the boxes,” Executive Director Kristin Kirkwood said in a statement. “It protects important natural resources, entrusts management to a proven partner and creates a new community asset.”

The new chapter house will serve as a “conservation and education center” for the Izaak Walton League, according to Horsmon, who said chapter leaders plan to focus on youth programs and want to connect with local schools and Scout troops. He envisions having laboratory space in the new building where youths can study items they find on the property.

The chapter also plans to develop a canoe and kayak launch along Otter Point Creek as well as a trail network, and will partner with organizations such as the nearby Anita C. Leight Estuary Center and Otter Point Creek Component of the National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The plans depend a lot on volunteer support and obtaining funding, Horsmon noted. People can find more information about volunteering or contributing to the chapter at its website. More information about the Harford Land Trust is available on its website or Facebook page.

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