The pandemic has certainly changed our lives and hopefully our political awareness. The shelter in place order has highlighted the luxury of having access to the outdoors. Those of us lucky enough to have a backyard or maybe even a forest have found ourselves appreciating the open space like never before. The Ma & Pa trail is full of folks in search of exercise and serenity that can only be found in nature. Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “In wilderness is the preservation of the world,” has literally come true. One of the safest places to be right now is in the woods.
Sadly, many residents living in the development envelope don’t have access to trails or the luxury of open space. They can’t “social distance” without standing in a parking lot or keeping their kids indoors all day. Harford County’s decision to turn an incredibly beautiful 329-acre forest located in Abingdon into parking lots and warehouses is even more ridiculous and irresponsible now than it was a month ago. The county council and county administration have ignored their own county planners who identified the Abingdon forest as “a Core Forest which should be protected and preserved," as part of Harford County’s Green Infrastructure Plan. The plan states that, “actions to protect, restore, and manage county green infrastructure start with direct county stewardship, education, outreach, and regulation.” I wish our county leaders would read their plan.
It is just not true that county officials have no control of private property that was zoned for development 30 years ago. In fact, the council, with approval from the administration, placed the forest into an enterprise zone to encourage its development by offering tax breaks to the developer. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is currently challenging the county’s approval of the forestry management plan, which is completely inadequate.
This forest, in the Bush River watershed, is crucial for water quality, provides essential habitat, regulates the climate, cleans the air and as we have come to learn; is essential to the sanity and safety of the citizens within the development envelope, who deserve open space too. Wendell Barry said, “There are no unsacred places. There are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
Please take some time to call your County Council representative and the County Executive and let them know that you are not in favor of desecrating this forest. Please vote for county officials who want to preserve our safety and sanity.