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Letter: COVID-19 highlights the importance of conserving open space in Harford County | READER COMMENTARY

Anya Tyurina and her son, Ivan, explore local forests as part of the Harford Land Trust's 20/20 challenge this year.
Anya Tyurina and her son, Ivan, explore local forests as part of the Harford Land Trust's 20/20 challenge this year. (Photo courtesy of Anya Tyurina)

Regional data are showing us what we already know to be true — people are turning to parks for health and recreation more than ever during this difficult time for our nation. The Baltimore region, including Harford County, has seen an 87% increase in park visitation between January and June 2020.

We rely on our local parks and greenways for solace, adventure, exercise and inspiration. Among many other truths, the COVID-19 crisis is showing us loudly and clearly the importance of access to open space for every person in Harford County.

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At the Harford Land Trust, we believe that land conservation is good for people, the economy and the planet. For almost 30 years, we have preserved Harford County’s most sensitive and treasured lands to ensure a better, safer, healthier and more sustainable future for all residents.

In August, with the help of the Ben Boniface Deer Creek Valley Fund, Harford Land Trust launched the Harford 20/20 Challenge to raise awareness and funds for land preservation in Harford County. We were overwhelmed by the positive response as hundreds of residents took to county trails and waterways, covering more than 3,000 miles by foot, bike, horse and paddle crafts to support land preservation.

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In Harford County, we are blessed to have some of the region’s premier open spaces. But we must remember that protection of these special places is usually hard-fought, long and costly. Land preservation is rarely spontaneous, but relies on vision, perseverance, capital investment and smart land-use policies.

Our work is never finished, and we have no time to waste. Harford County loses productive farmland and sensitive forests year after year. We are grateful for the hundreds of county residents who support our work, and, with their help, we will continue to protect Harford County’s open space each and every day.

KRISTIN KIRKWOOD

White Hall

The author is the executive director of the Harford Land Trust.

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