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Patapsco Valley Heritage Area expands to include new sites in Howard, Baltimore counties

The Patapsco Valley Heritage Area, one of 13 heritage areas in Maryland that support regional cultural, historic and natural resources tourism, is expanding by 12 square miles to include sites such as a portion of the Korean Way in Howard County and the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore County.

Lindsay Baker, executive director of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, announced this week that the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area, which stretches across Howard and Baltimore counties, is expanding its reach to encompass sites from the Carroll County line to the Baltimore city line.

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In addition to Korean Way and the Guinness brewery, the expansion will include the Diggs-Johnson Museum in Woodstock, Granite Historic District in Baltimore County and the Howard County Conservancy (Mt. Pleasant).

The Patapsco Heritage Greenway, which oversees the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area, has a mission to preserve, protect, interpret and restore the environment, history and culture of the Patapsco River Valley and currently includes 23 sites for people to explore, according to its website.

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Organizations located within the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area have access to support in the form of sponsorships and grants of up to $100,000 via the Patapsco Heritage Greenway from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

The Patapsco Valley Heritage Area is officially expanding by approximately 12 square miles.
The Patapsco Valley Heritage Area is officially expanding by approximately 12 square miles. (Courtesy photo/Patapsco Heritage Greenway)

“We are trying to incorporate the entire Patapsco watershed at least within Baltimore and Howard [counties],” Patapsco Heritage Greenway President Steve Wachs said. “That’s kind of the goal and what we are trying to do is tell the story of the whole Patapsco Valley basically from Sykesville down to Baltimore city.”

Guinness Open Gate Brewery general manager Mike Donilon is eager to be included in the expansion.

“We are just thrilled about it. Where we are, outdoor activities are just so important right now and this is a great way to just keep pushing the beauty that we have in our area and really create more opportunities to bring in more tourists,” Donilon said. “With other activities around Patapsco, it’s wonderful.”

This week the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority also announced matching grants totaling $367,715 for Patapsco Valley Heritage Area nonprofits and local jurisdictions. The grant funds support tourism projects and activities that draw visitors and expand economic development and tourism-related opportunities in the Patapsco Valley.

Some of the matching grants include a nearly $13,000 grant for marketing efforts in the heritage area and $75,000 for the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park. The Howard County Conservancy received $50,000 for adaptive reuse of its carriage house, and the Catonsville Rails to Trails nonprofit received $50,000.

Meg Boyd, executive director for the Howard County Conservancy, was already familiar with the Patapsco Heritage Greenway.

“One of our locations in Elkridge [the Belmont Manor and Historic Park] was already part of the heritage area, so we had already been partnered with Patapsco Heritage Greenway on lots of different programs,” Boyd said. “We were very excited at the opportunity to expand so that our second site was also part of the heritage area.”

Boyd said she was excited for plans for a future project at the conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant site.

“We actually heard last week that our grant was approved to do some adaptive reuse of the historic carriage house on the grounds of the nature center,” Boyd said. “We weren’t sure to be able to keep that project going, so this funding has been really wonderful.”

Wachs is looking forward to meeting with the new partners in the near future.

“We will explain to them what the opportunities are and kind of what the process is and that kind of thing, we’re excited,” he said. “Guinness is going to be part of the heritage area, and they seem to be very excited about it and we are looking forward to them being a good partner.”

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Donilon wrote a supportive letter in advance of the expansion and was elated to see it come to fruition.

“We know how valuable it is and we are thrilled to see it come through,” he said. “I enjoy being part of the community, and this was a fun one and we look forward to future efforts.”

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