Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ogling Ogleton Woods

Folks on the Annapolis Neck Peninsula are serious about preserving what little green spaces remains around them. The Bay Ridge Trust was created in 1989 and now holds conservation easements on over 100 acres at the end of the peninsula, including riparian forest. The largest segment of these forests, 110 acres, were saved because of the action of the Bay Ridge Community Association (BRCA). In 2002, BRCA created a special taxation district for the 400 homes in Bay Ridge, which was able to leverage $2.25 million through an assessment of $250 per household per year. In addition, Bay Ridge was able to take advantage of nearly $600,000 from Project Open Space and the Anne Arundel County Conservation Fund. Another $1.1 million was raised in private contributions from individuals in the community. The debt to preserve precious open space, borne by the entire community, and the ingenuity employed to bring so many resources to bear, truly reflect an uncommon dedication to saving community.

So, it was all the more impressive to see the adjacent community of Annapolis Roads rally together, collect over $2 million, and protect the 33-acre Ogleton Woods property next to their community. Not content with that however, the community has given the potential buyer of the 70-acre parcel next to the Woods, St. Mary's Church, cold feet. Turns out that through a combination of angry congregants and unworkable economics after the sale of the Woods, the church has decided against going forward with its plan to buy the land. Word is, the community now hopes to purchase it.

Each of these stories shows what communities truly dedicated to preserving their quality of life are capable of doing given the proper will. Granted, these neighborhoods are generally well-off, but there are few, if any, places in the County where land values are so high. North, west, and south County conservation groups would all do well to take important lessons away from these successes.


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