Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails Honor Volunteers
“The reason for the success of this trail system is because of the volunteers,” said Sue Payne, the interim superintendent of Anne Arundel County Trails. Payne knows what she’s talking about, having served as the park ranger for the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail before taking her current position.
Payne was speaking to volunteers, county officials, Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails and trail users at the organization’s Annual Meeting on Oct. 23. She praised a specific group of volunteers, the yellow shirt clad Trailblazers. “The Trailblazers are my eyes and ears on the trail,” she said. The B&A Trail stretches 13.3 miles from Glen Burnie in the north to Annapolis in the south. “The Trailblazers patrol the trail, provide basic directions, first aid and help people in need.”
Payne recognized some remarkable accomplishments. Two Trailblazers, Tom Caraker and Neal Smith cover the trail like Kellogg covers breakfast. Together the two men have logged more than 10,000 miles on the trail this year, the equivalent of biking from Washington, DC to Seattle three times with a trip to New Orleans left over. Payne also honored Bob and Mary Ruck for their 13 years of volunteer service and Rich Groenwald for his able assistance with many tasks.
The objective of the Friends program is to promote, protect and enhance the trails in Anne Arundel County. For many volunteers that means digging out weeds, planting flowers and plants that will beautify the trail area. A total of 51 flower beds have been marked out along the trails, with six new ones begun this year. Some remarkable gardeners were recognized when the Moonflower Garden Club was given a plaque. The club has tended the water garden area at Hatton Regester for approximately 16 years. Lesley Kreuzburg, the club president, accepted an award on behalf of the club.
From the oldest to the newest. Jonas Green Park, the newest park in the system, has enjoyed a great deal of care thanks to volunteers and county personnel. A group of Midshipmen from the nearby Naval Academy marked a special day of remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks by volunteering at the park. They dug out drainage ditches so the entire park can be more effectively watered during the year. Volunteers also planted new crepe myrtles at the park.
Friends board member Jack Keene reported on the Planet Walk, an annual event held on the B & A Trail. This event is focused on the 4.6-mile scale model of the solar system, marked by an impressive sculpture of the sun, located in Glen Burnie, and the sculpture of Pluto, located at the Earliegh Heights Ranger Station. Improvements this year included permanent stainless steel markers for each of the planets. Each spring the Planet Walk event encourages locals to learn about the solar system by walking the trail and conversing with scientists and astronomers who are positioned at various stations along the trail. NASA and Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Department partners with the Friends for the event.
Carol Silldorff, executive director of Bike Maryland, delivered the featured address for the evening describing ongoing efforts to make the state more bike friendly. She noted that Maryland was listed as the eighth most bike friendly state by Bicycling magazine. She also described the successful campaign to have the state legislature approve a 3 foot rule. This rule means that vehicles must not come closer than three feet to a bicyclist, which enhances the safety for riders. Silldorff also spoke about the positive economic value of bicycling to the state noting that Frostburg had welcomed 100,000 visitors last year who came to use the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. “It’s all about partnerships,” she said of the growing success of the bicycling lobby in the state.
A recent partnership with the Wegmans grocery store in Crofton also has been developing. Store employees have shown their community minded spirit by volunteering at parks even before the store opened. Beginning in March the store will produce a Passport to Wellness which will promote healthy living for residents.
Elizabeth Wyble, president of the Friends served as master of ceremonies for the event. She highlighted the efforts of the two full-time maintenance people working on the trail – Bob Short and Carl Moulden. Both were given awards for their efforts on behalf of the trails in Anne Arundel County. “When we have suggestions about things that need to get fixed, they tell me ‘We’ll get to it,’ said Wyble. “Despite having manpower and financial cutbacks, they always do.”
Wyble concluded the meeting on an upbeat note, “See you on the trails!”
For updated information on projects and events, go to www.friendsofaatrails.org. Major trails serviced by the Friends in Anne Arundel County include B & A Trail, BWI Trail (circles the BWI airport) and a section of the WB & A Trail in Odenton.