A Wrong Slant on Meade Wildlife
William Rinehart's letter titled "Fort Meade Park," printed in The Sun on Sept. 10, has the wrong slant on it.
The 8,100 acres of former Fort Meade land that was transferred to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center last year (and a final tract later this month) is a premier wildlife sanctuary in its present state.,
It is home to deer, small game and non-game animals; bald eagles nest there; the Eastern bobcat is making a comeback on that land, and that little cat cannot stand many people in its territory. There are a bear and cubs reported on the land this year, which underscores the depth of the sancturay. River otter swim both the Big and Little Patuxent River branches along with mink, beaver, muskrat, wood ducks, the threatened black duck, geese and other migratory waterfowl.
The woodcock transients that land, where it finds a stopping off place on its way south and north, to and from Louisiana. Additionally, there are about 12 endangered or threatened little plants or insects that exist on that land because it has never had real human impact.
The Army started Camp Meade as World War I broke out. The Army added to it as World War II became a reality. While the rest of the area began to develop after World War II, the Army land was used for training.
In the 1950s, wildlife management became a program along with the military training, and it became apparent that the two were compatible; military maneuvers, including tank training, were not harmful to the habitat or the species....
During this past spring, our organization planted over 40 acres of erosion control plots using wildlife food such as clover, millet, lespedeza, etc.
The eroded parking areas Mr. Rinehart mentioned are fast disappearing and to the benefit of wildlife, game and non-game.
The "drop zone" he refers to was created in the early '70s, as a place for parachute training. It may look ragged to the untrained eye, but is is a smorgasbord to the deer and eagles that live in that area. Small game thrive in that acreage and the native quail coveys on the facility are concentrated in that area.
Finally, the areas where the rifle ranges used to be are being managed to grow into habitat.
While the former Fort Meade land may look like a "freebie," it must be pointed out that the county already owns over 500 acres around the Fort Meade part of the county.
County Council Chairman David Boschert and Del. Marsha Perry chaired a committee that positively located extensive undeveloped acres in west Anne Arundel County.
Finally, Anne Arundel County will shortly receive funds from the Department of the Interior, through the Fish and Wildlife Service, for the former Fort Meade land forever being off the county tax rolls.
That money is estimated to be several hundred thousand dollars a year, every year. Since County Executive Robert Neall has created a $10 million emergency fund (and more power to him), it seems reasonable that Mr. Rinehart could persuade his boss to take the money coming from the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act, use it to replace the lost open space funds and get on with creating recreation on the already mentioned county lands.
That way the citizens of the county will have vital wildlife research habitat and parks for more traditional sports activities. The cost will not have to come from a tough budget since the thousands of dollars are new to the county, so to speak.
Finally, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center already permits all sorts of activities on the former Fort Meade land.
Nature walks and biking are already permitted. Fishing is permitted. Hunting will be allowed in some areas during Maryland seasons. Photography is permitted along with hiking, and none of these activities requires paved parking lots, picnic gazebos or other disruptive construction.
They presently let you take a picnic to the lakes or along on your hikes if you bring the trash out. So let's have a win-win arrangement; wildlife research and habitat maintenance on the fish and Wildlife Service land and traditional sports on county or county-acquired land.
Eugene W. Hyatt
The writer is president of the Meade Natural Heritage
I find it fascinating that Gov. Bill Clinton, the Democrats' nominee for president, is advocating the use of military force against the Serbs in the former Yuglslavian republics. He is actually advising president Bush to send American citizens to a foreign land and risk being killed.
Is this would-be president the same man who worked ardently for candidate George McGovern, the George McGovern who urged the United States to "beg"for peace from Hanoi?
Has Bill Clinton had a sudden change of heart concerning the military, since he deliberately deceived his ROTC recruiters in order to avoid the draft and stated that he readily understood why there was "loathing" of the American military?
Governor Clinton says that he is the man that should lead our nation and our armed forces, I think that I know a commander-in-chief when I see one, and Governor Clinton, you are no George Bush.