Please send a note to MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org and
Casey.Anderson@mncppc-mc.org asking that they refrain from placing multi-use trails in the fragile Serpentine Barrens.
Read what has already been said by ANS and West Mongtomery County Citizens Assn:
Dear Commissioner Anderson and Planning Commissioners,
I write to strongly support the letter sent to you tonight by Ginny Barnes, Co-Chair of the Legacy Open Space Advisory Group.
Audubon Naturalist Society has been a strong supporter of Legacy Open Space since its inception. We seek to create a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it.
Legacy Open Space, through its long-term acquisition and preservation of uniquely important natural areas such as the Serpentine Barrens, serves the populace of the entire Washington, D.C. region. When it comes to unique and rare ecosystems such as the Serpentine Barrens, the objective must be to have the lightest possible human footprint -- so that these natural treasures will still exist for generations to come.
We join with Ms. Barnes in urging you to refrain from placing multi-use trails in fragile areas including our Serpentine Barrens.
Yours for natural areas protection,
Conservation Program Director
(301) 652-9188 x22
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Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 7:41 PM
To: MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org; Casey.Anderson@mncppc-mc.org; John.Hench@montgomeryparks.org; Mike.Riley@montgomeryparks.org
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Subject: Multi use trails in the Serpentine Barrens?
RE: Agenda Item #7 Serpentine Barrens Conservation Park - Land Acquisition Recommendation - LOS - November 19, 2015
Dear Commissioner Anderson and members of the Plannning Commission
As a member of the Trails Working Group, I received notice from Chuck Kines that with the proposed acquisition of these additional properties, which I certainly support, may come the opportunity to open trails in the Serpentine to multi- use. This is short notice for me and I'm unable to attend the Commission meeting tomorrow.
I vehemently oppose opening the Barrens to multi-use. For many years in the early 1990's, I and many others worked to save as much of this rare geological area as possible. John Parrish did much to bring to the attention to the area during the Potomac Master Plan revision process. Due to development pressures in the headwaters of Piney Branch and the approval of the Piney Branch sewer, we are now left with only a fragment of the original Serpentinite outcrop. Just enough to hold onto some interior forest dwelling wildlife and rare plant species populations. That now existing park is bisected by power lines, a further disturbance to many rare species found there. In the park management plan adopted, equestrians were given a designated trail through a small portion of the park and along rights-of-way adjacent to the park to foster equestrian connectivity and to safeguard the natural resources.
The approved 2007 Plan for this Park recognized the fragility of the thin soils and the importance of the rare plants and unique forest found there. It was concluded this park should be managed as a geological showcase with minimal intrusion to protect it. Thus natural surface trails and an interpretive program were envisioned to introduce citizens to a geology so rare, it is only found on 1% of the Earth's surface. Additional uses beyond hiking were considered threatening to the long term protection of the forest and ecosystem.
Allowing increased use of trails by horses and bikes facilitates erosion in already shallow soils and hastens the spread of invasive plants along trail corridors due to soil disturbance. I did not believe after such a strong case was made for the need to protect this of all parks from overuse, that we'd be revisiting the decisions made to preserve what makes it such a treasure to the County and indeed the East Coast.
With all due respect, any proposed changes to trail use should take place within a larger discussion in which the scientific expertise of parks stewardship staff is consulted since such a proposal constitutes a threat to a rare resource for which a management decision was previously and publicly vetted. .
Co-Chair, LOS Advisory Group
Ginny Barnes, Enviromental Chair
West Montgomery County Citizens Association