Forest Cover And Development Buildout Evaluation For The Owings Mills Growth Area, Gwynns Falls Watershed (presentation)
OUTEN, DONALD C.
Research was conducted by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management regarding an analysis of the forest cover changes in the Owings Mills Growth Area of the Gwynns Falls watershed. Completed in March, 1999, this study was conducted under contract to the Parks and People Foundation, Inc. in support of the Revitalizing Baltimore Project, a cooperative effort of the USDA Forest Service, state and local agencies, watershed associations, and non-profit organizations for the management of watershed resources and healthy communities.
This research addressed three questions about the development of Baltimore County's Owings Mills Growth Area in relation to the forest and riparian resources of the area:
1. How much of the Owings Mills Growth Area has already been developed? How much was forested prior to development of the area and how much forest cover has been lost?Approximately 40% of the 13,285-acre Growth Area designated in the 1984 Plan for Owings Mills was already developed at the time of Plan approval, and another 10% was committed to public or private open space. The remaining 50% was designated for future development. An area of approximately 7,300 acres was selected for study where the most intensive development has occurred since the adoption of the 1984 Plan. The Study Area for this research included primarily the Red Run and Horsehead Branch sub-watersheds and includes:
The primary findings from the study included:
1. The Study Area contains the largest area of forest cover in the County portion of the Gwynns Falls watershed. However, in 1974, prior to development of the Growth Area, forest cover represented only 32.2% of the Study Area. The development of Owings Mills has therefore occurred primarily on former agricultural land. Owings Mills was designated to receive development that otherwise would have impacted agricultural and reservoir watersheds.The development of the Owings Mills Growth Area has important implications for balancing growth management and resource protection responsibilities of local government. The original 1984 Plan for Owings Mills envisioned that the forested streams of the Red Run area would provide important benefits by defining and separating neighborhood clusters. Today, multi-storied condominiums and town houses overlook stream buffers that are typically several hundred feet in width across the tributaries of the Red Run. These corridors are now appreciated for providing other important functions such as protection of air and water quality, maintenance of stream channel stability, and provision of terrestrial and aquatic habitat.
The 9,600 acre Owings Mills Growth Area today has a population of more than 40,000, a resident labor force of 25,000, and total employment of 30,000. An estimated $1.4 billion of Federal, State, and County funding has been invested for infrastructure to support the development of Owings Mills. The growth area has achieved important economic, social, and environmental objectives as a result of the cooperative efforts of citizen organizations, the business community and the development industry, Federal, State and local agencies responsible for capital improvements, and County leadership for growth management and resource protection. The County's commitment to the Plan has transcended political administrations and economic cycles.