Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Oregon Ridge Park Forest Health Assessment and Management Plan
Twery, Mark
Co-Authors: Don Outen, Len Wrabel, Mark Twery

With nearly 900 acres of contiguous forest located centrally in Baltimore County, Oregon Ridge Park provides the County’s 800,000+ citizens and others in the region with ample opportunity to experience nature in close proximity to their communities. Nearly 6 miles of trails allow visitors to hike throughout a diverse forest community with 90 overstory, understory, and ground-layer plant species. More than 6 miles of streams originate within or flow through the Park, providing habitat for numerous aquatic species, including native brook trout. The casual Park visitor, observing the seasonal changes at Oregon Ridge, likely sees the forest as an aesthetically pleasing and healthy system. Beyond the general story told by educational exhibits at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center, few visitors likely understand that this invaluable recreational resource exists on a landscape altered greatly by humans over the past two centuries. Visitors and non-visitors alike may assume that the forest system at Oregon Ridge is well-protected by its public ownership and Park designation. The County’s environmental managers have been aware, however, that the health of forest ecosystems here and throughout the region are threatened. As a result, Mar-Len Environmental was contracted to conduct an assessment of the health of the Oregon Ridge Park forest and to prepare a forest management plan to address problems revealed by the assessment. The forest assessment has identified significant environmental threats to the health and long-term sustainability of the Oregon Ridge Park forest that, without thoughtful management response, will change and potentially degrade the forest as it now exists.