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I have been a botanical field expert in all of my park ranger-naturalist-estuarine educator jobs over the past 42 years, most recently at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.

Abingdon Forest is swampy, and downslope from Bel Air and Harford County’s development zone. This water-absorbing, pollution-filtering mature woodland lies at the bottom of the Winters Run-HaHa Branch watershed just above Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, Leight woods and National Estuarine Research Reserve (N.E.R.R.'s) Otter Point Creek preserve.

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A population of Spongy Arrowhead, Sagittaria spatulata, is growing in freshwater, tidal mud flats of the HaHa Branch where it empties into Otter Point Creek. This species is rated S2 on the state’s Department of Natural Resources’ List of Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plants of Maryland. S2 means, “Imperiled/State Rare — at high risk of extinction or extirpation due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors. Typically occurring in 6-20 populations.”

How many rare-imperiled species associated with the Harford County coastal plain marshes and upstream swamps will most likely be extirpated by this Abingdon Business Park development? An environmental impact report needs to be required by this County Council.

My second point for this Council to consider:

In Abingdon Forest, there are 78 heritage trees with DBH (diameter at breast height, the standard method of measuring the diameter of a tree trunk) greater than 30 inches. This 326-acre forest should remain undeveloped, not 295 acres cleared, with 53 heritage trees cut down, for 2.1 million square feet of warehouse and retail, service roads and associated parking pavement.

Maryland is aiming for 50% renewable energy by 2030. A temperate forested swamp of this size and age stores 2,750 pounds of carbon per acre annually. Multiplied by 50 years, that equals 44,825,000 pounds of carbon. If put into Maryland’s Project Open Space the carbon in Abingdon Forest could be banked for exchange on the carbon market. Abingdon forest provides ecological services of several kinds. Thank you.

FAWN PALMER

Churchville

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