Kent County is located in the northern part of the Eastern Shore and is primarily rural. The topography is generally flat through the mid-section of the county with steep slopes common along the Chesapeake Bay from Betterton to Tolchester. The total county population has changed little over the last 100 years. The population in 1998 was approximately 18,925 and is projected to reach 20,150 by 2010. Chestertown is the county seat and principal municipality with a population of just over 4,000.
Kent County covers approximately 179,480 land acres. The county is largely agricultural with 68%, or 122,050 acres zoned agricultural. Three hundred fourteen farms, averaging 374 acres each, comprise over 66% of Kent County’s land acres. There are 5,972 acres in parks and publicly owned open space. Another 17,150 acres are in some form of permanent preservation.
Kent County residents and leaders are aggressively implementing additional land preservation efforts including the creation of greenways and habitat protection areas. Existing greenways in Chestertown and Millington will be augmented through the active creation of greenways that have been proposed in past years.
Kent County is among the top counties providing access points to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It has numerous natural areas including the Chester and Sassafras River watersheds, wetlands, and riparian forests. The county provides residents with a wide variety of recreational as well as resource-based employment.
Newcastle County, Delaware poses the greatest potential for direct future impact on the quality of life in Kent County. Population and job increases larger than the entire population of Kent are projected in Newcastle County south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. This area has direct access to Kent County via Rt. 301 which is currently undergoing planning for major capacity increases in Delaware.
1) Chestertown Greenways
The Chestertown Greenways is a patchwork of protected land that includes farmland preserved through agricultural easements, land held by the Maryland Environmental Trust, and several small, local parks. Although this corridor involves private land and is not suitable for public access or recreation activities, it provides significant land conservation in the most populated areas of the county.
2) Chestertown Regional Greenways
The Chestertown Regional Greenways is a proposed project with three components: a rail-trail conversion extending north to Worton, a nature trail running through unused industrial waterfront sites, and a waterfront promenade along the historic wharf area in town. Wilmer Park serves as a hub connecting all three proposed projects.
The rail-trail would extend five miles to the town of Worton. The first mile is proposed within town limits. Washington College would then be connected for non-motorized transportation directly to neighborhoods and recreational areas along the waterfront. The nature trail would be constructed with minor grading and a clam shell surface with boardwalks and ramps for crossing wetlands. The waterfront promenade along the river between High Street and Cannon Street is complete and was dedicated in 1999.
3) Millington Wildlife Management Area
There is an existing interstate greenways running from Millington Wildlife Management Area in Maryland to the Blackbird State Forest in Delaware. Currently the two large parcels of state-owned property that make up Millington Wildlife Management Area in Maryland are unconnected. However, there is a stream running between the two properties, and there is only a short distance needed to connect the two parcels.
4) Still Pond Creek to Fairlee Creek Greenways
The Still Pond Creek to Fairlee Creek Greenways is a planned greenways along the Chesapeake Bay on the northwest side of the county. Existing protected land includes two large parcels under easement with the Maryland Environmental Trust. At the southern end of the potential greenways is the Great Oak Yacht Club and Golf Course. A large parcel between Still Pond Creek and Worton Creek would come close to completing the link between the two environmental easement properties. The owner of this parcel has generously made arrangements to eventually bequeath this farm property to the Maryland Environmental Trust.
5) Langford Creek Water Trail
The Langford Creek Water Trail highlights the scenic beauty of southern Kent County. Starting from the public landing at Shipyard Creek on the West Fork of Langford Creek, paddlers travel along the western side of Broad Neck, which is characterized by flat topography. Depending on the amount of time one has, canoes and kayaks can be pulled out at Broad Neck Landing, or the more adventurous can continue up the East Fork of Langford Creek; however, no public landings are available.
6) Morgan Creek Water Trail
The Morgan Creek Water Trail meanders through the heart of Kent County. Morgan Creek is a narrow, winding creek with farmland on both sides. This water trail is geared mainly towards canoes and kayaks. There is a soft landing at Riley’s Mill on the north end of Morgan Creek. There is a landing at Morgnec just before the bridge across Rt. 291, which is also a popular spot for fishing.
7) Upper Chester River Water Trail
All of the Chester River above Chestertown is suitable for paddling. The river is not much more than a stream above Millington but slowly widens as it flows toward Chestertown. Farms parallel the water for much of the way and wooded buffers are common. There are public landings at regular intervals which allow variation in trip length. Paddlers can put in on either end. There are also landings at Buckingham Wharf and Shadding Reach Road.
8) Sassafras River Water Trail
The Sassafras River is as suitable for paddling as the Chester River, although there is a fair amount of boat traffic near Georgetown. Public landings are available at Fox Hole Landing near the head of the river, Gregg Neck landing on Mill Creek near Georgetown, Shallcross Wharf, Turner’s Creek Landing near the Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area, and at Betterton near the mouth of the river. In addition, there are numerous tributaries that can be explored on either side of the Sassafras.
9) Eastern Neck Island Water Trail
The circuit around Eastern Neck Island National Wildlife Refuge is a spectacular experience. The island teems with wildlife, and numerous coves and creeks are waiting to be explored. Bogles Landing is on the eastern side of the island and is suitable for canoes and kayaks.