Pirate’s Wharf Park project underway
QUANTICO, Md. – Wicomico County is doing something special to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Pirate’s Wharf Park planners are kicking off the project that will hopefully turn an abandoned farm field into a forest. “It’s going to be habitat for wildlife. Butterflies, pollinators, all kinds of animals, and a place of recreation for humans,” said Old Forest Growth Network executive director Joan Maloof.
Loblolly pines, cedar, redbud, and oak trees were planted earlier this week. Project organizers say they’re hoping the trees will thrive. The land used to be used for corn and soybean production. “When this becomes a forest, those chemicals won’t be applied, that soil won’t be disturbed,” said Maloof.
Project organizers say they hope the park will foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment with young people. “The open space creates room for recreation and for possible education opportunities and for those to get out and just to enjoy nature,” said Wicomico County district representative Nicole Acle.
Acle also says she hopes the space can be used for education in the future, and stressed the health benefits it could have for the community. “Being outdoors is known to increase serotonin and vitamin D, decreasing depression, anxiety. Children with ADHD do much better in open spaces with fresh air, and so I hope that that’s something that we could cultivate in the future,” she said.
Organizers say with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day falling on Wednesday, this is the perfect time to kick off what will hopefully be a part of the Earth’s lungs. “On Earth Day we not only point out where the problems lie, but we can point out the successes, and this is a place where we have those great successes where we’re moving forward and making progress,” said Maloof.
The project is being funded with the help of the federal land and water conservation fund, providing the county $820,000 to work with. “We’ve cobbled together a number of different funding sources. It’s roughly about a 2 million dollar project that we’ve been able to pull together,” said Wicomico County director of recreation, parks, and tourism Steve Miller.
Miller tells 47ABC that the park is still in its early stages, but should be ready to partially open next year. “The remainder of this year we’re in the design phase. We’re hoping later on that we can start to bid out portions of the project, and we’re hoping 2021 we can actually start to develop this property,” he said.