700 acres of fragile beauty gain an important friend


The effort by conservationists to preserve one of the largest remaining forests on the Severn River has received the support of the Severn River Commission.

The 700-acre site is near Round Bay, north of Annapolis. Environmental experts have said the dense woods, bogs and tidal pools support birds that live deep in the forest and provide a habitat for other wildlife.

"We have an opportunity to back something that can help the land," said John J. Schwarz, a member of the commission. Two of eight commissioners abstained from last week's vote.

The proposal to save the land is picking up momentum as community groups horse-trade property rights for other considerations.

Belvoir Farms Community Association is offering a permanent conservation easement on 42 acres of woods and removal of 32 mooring buoys in Maynadier Creek in exchange for support for its variance request to put 28 boat slips on a community pier. By law, the pier can have five slips. Its plan, which has not been submitted to county planners yet, is opposed by members of the community of Bayberry Hill.

The community of Sherwood Forest will grant a similar easement on its 126-acre forest if the adjacent property, owned by Baltimore County dentist William Koenig, is preserved. Dr. Koenig's land is for sale for $1.5 million, and conservationists are HTC pressuring the state Department of Natural Resources to buy it and perhaps other smaller parcels to trigger the Sherwood Forest easement. Taken together, the properties box in a 400-acre farm owned by Oscar Sahlin. Environmentalists hope that, if surrounding land is preserved now, the Sahlin family could be convinced to preserve its farm and forest in the future.

The Severn River Commission's vote carries no financial support. But it would be a factor in county officials' decisions on such issues as whether to back Belvoir Farms' request for a variance for the slips.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad