Spa Creek Conservancy has received a $2.8 million grant from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to restore the headwaters.
Stuart Lehman looks out over a marshy opening in the woods as the group of hikers he has been leading huddles loosely around him.
The birds chirp, the water is still and the sky is a brilliant blue. At the top of a hill on the other end of the opening, two houses peak through barren trees. Otherwise, the view is all nature.
"This is kind of a hidden gem in Spa Creek's headwaters," Lehman tells the group. "It's like having Central Park in Manhattan."
Lehman, Spa Creek Conservancy's first steward of the creek, led about 35 people on a "Walk the Creek" hike around the creek's headwaters Monday, beginning near Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Annapolis.
Spa Creek Conservancy has received a $2.8 million grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to restore the creek's headwaters.
Amy Clements, the group's president, said she wanted to host a walk of the headwaters before the restoration work begins and possibly another when the work is finished so people can make a before-and-after comparison.
The restoration project will look to recreate the historic flood plain in Spa Creek's headwaters.
The goal is to get the headwaters to look more like the area that Lehman called a "hidden gem."
As it is now, rain water enters the headwaters through storm drains and fills up the creek, scouring its sides and creating a deep, skinny channel that isn't supposed to be there, Clements said.
The restoration project will raise the level of the soil in the headwaters to spread out the water and create more of a meandering stream again, with more habitat, she said.
As part of the project, Spa Creek Conservancy is also working with the communities near the creek's headwaters to reduce the amount of stormwater coming into the creek.
The conservancy has partnered with the Southwoods community, for example, and half of the community's driveways will become pervious concrete instead of impervious surface under the grant, Clements said.
"You should really attack the stormwater at its source, so that's why we're working with communities in the headwaters," she said. "We don't want the same thing to happen again. .... Every neighborhood, of course, has a great impact on the stormwater in the creek."