Calvert County is Marylandís smallest county, only 220 square miles. The county is a peninsula surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay on its eastern side and the Patuxent River on the west. Much of the bay side of the county is characterized by steep wooded cliffs while the Patuxent River side contains a mixture of rolling hills and flat lands, primarily in agricultural use.
The county covers approximately 137,730 acres. Thirty-five percent (35%) or 48,000 acres are zoned agricultural. Of the land acres, 65% are made up of farmland, woodland, parkland, and open space. The county has recently increased the amount of funding for its farmland preservation efforts and has received statewide recognition for its strategy to reduce buildout. Currently, the county has protected over 20,000 acres of prime farmland through its local efforts and participation in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.
The county still retains a rural character. However, services and trade are gradually replacing traditional agriculture and seafood activities. In 1994, the county board of commissioners adopted an innovative revolving loan fund to help finance non-profit organizations working to preserve open space. Local land trusts have utilized this service in acquiring lands.
Calvert Countyís the population in 1995 was 63,925 and is projected to reach 87,000 by 2010. Town centers are the primary designated growth areas in the county. They include North Beach, Chesapeake Beach, Dunkirk, Owings, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, St. Leonard, Lusby, and Solomons.
There are a wide variety of recreational opportunities in Calvert County ranging from small town parks to larger state parks such as Calvert Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay. The county has approximately 1,500 acres of county or municipal parkland, while the state has approximately 3,030 acres. The countyís Comprehensive Plan and Land Preservation and Recreation Plan recommend the creation of greenways throughout the county. The county is also exploring opportunities to create water access points.
The 1997 County Comprehensive Plan identified a series of open space sites and greenways, primarily along the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River. The plan calls for town centers to serve as focal points for community-based recreation and for development of a network of county-wide parks featuring unique natural, cultural, and historical sites. Types of greenways in the county vary widely. Some are designated scenic roadways, with or without adjacent bikeways. Others are off-road trails for horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, or a combination. Additional greenways are waterway corridors that provide opportunities for boating or are simply wildlife and scenic corridors.
1) Baltimore-Drum Point Rail Trail
The Baltimore-Drum Point Rail Trail is a potential rail trail that runs the length of the entire county. Large sections of the abandoned railroad bed are still intact, providing excellent opportunites for hiking, biking, and horseback riding through a varied landscape of farms, forests, and waterways linking the town centers of Owings, Prince Frederick, St. Leonard, Lusby, and Solomons. At Flag Ponds, the trail becomes the Flag Ponds to Solomons Trail. At Owings, the trail intersects the potential Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail.
2) Battle Creek to Parkerís Creek Greenways
The Battle Creek to Parkerís Creek Greenways is part of Calvert Countyís 9,000-acre Battle Creek/Parkerís Creek Rural Legacy Area. This greenways connects an amazing diversity of historic, archeological, and environmental features including the archaeological remains of Calvertown (Calvertís first town), the former home of supreme court justice Roger Brooke Tancy and historic Dehli plantation. The Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Nature Education Center, which draws thousands of people each year, is located within this greenways, as is the American Chestnut Land Trust, which manages over 2,000 acres of permanently preserved open space. Through the combined efforts of local land trusts, the county and state agriculture preservation programs, The Nature Conservancy, Maryland Program Open Space and Rural Legacy, 80% of this 9,000-acre protection area will be preserved by 2003.
3) Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail
The Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail is a potential regional trail system that could utilize the former railroad route from Washington, D.C. to Chesapeake Beach. The county recently acquired a 100-acre tract adjacent to Fishing Creek and the town of Chesapeake Beach which contains 1,800 feet of the railroad right-of-way. This property, renamed Fishing Creek Park, is adjacent to the terminus of the trail at Chesapeake Railroad Museum. Plans are underway to develop this portion of the trail and connect it to residential communities within the vicinity, providing off-road access to the towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach and their in-town boardwalks and trails.
The Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail is also being considered in Prince Georgeís and Anne Arundel counties, where segments of the 28-mile rail corridor also exist. A segment of the corridor within Calvert County has been developed as Rt. 260. An alternative corridor would need to be found to make the connection into Chesapeake Beach. The proposed trail would provide connections between Walker Mill Regional Park, Patuxent River Park, and Chesapeake Beach.
4) Ferry Landing Road to Hall Creek Greenways
The Ferry Landing Road to Hall Creek Greenways is a potential trail that could run from the end of Ferry Landing Road, through state-owned lands (Ferry Landing) to Hall Creek where the trail could end at a canoe-launching site. This project would be a joint effort between state and county agencies.
5) Flag Ponds to Solomons Trail
The Flag Ponds to Solomons Trail is a potential trail that could connect several of Calvert Countyís prime tourism and recreation sites including Flag Ponds, Baltimore Gas and Electric Visitorís Center, Calvert Cliffs State Park, Cove Point Park, Annmarie Gardens, and Calvert Marine Museum. The trail would also feature an interpretive segment on the War of 1812. The trail is defined as a priority project in Calvert Countyís Land Preservation and Recreation Plan.
6) North Beach Baywalk
The North Beach Baywalk is a boardwalk/pathway along the North Beach waterfront. Both Phase I and Phase II are complete. The boardwalk is 1.25-miles long and 16 feet wide. The town has plans for this boardwalk and bike trail to link into a combination of walkways and nature trails, with observation areas that will extend around adjoining wetlands. The corridor is landscaped and maintained with the help of the townís House and Garden Club. Waterfront access is provided at North Beach via a boardwalk. North Beach and Chesapeake Beach are connected by sidewalk and other pedestrian connections.
7) Patuxent Regional Greenways
The Patuxent Regional Greenways is a partially established regional greenways that stretches through seven counties extending from central Maryland through southern Maryland. The Patuxent River serves as the spine for the greenways which runs through Howard, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Prince Georgeís, Calvert, Charles, and St. Maryís counties. DNR currently owns about 15,000 acres along the Patuxent River and is working with local officials to extend protection along the mainstem.
In Calvert County, DNRís Patuxent River Natural Resource Management Areas total over 1,700 acres, including the Hall Creek and Kings Landing areas. At the southern end of the county, Solomonís Island provides a public walk and boat launch area along the Patuxent River, constructed with DNRís Waterway Improvement funds. Most of the land between these points is in private ownership. A protected buffer may be established along this stretch, which will provide water quality protection but will not afford additional public access.
8) Leitches Wharf Spur
The Leitches Wharf Spur is a potential hiking/biking trail between Radio Drive and Leitches Wharf Road. Leitches Wharf provides public access to the Patuxent River. Additional public land would enhance public access to the river.