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Herring Creek Nature Park

This restoration site is part of the Maryland Coastal Bay’s Trail to Restore the Shore project! Click on this story map link to learn more about this location and the other restoration sites part of this trail!

Located in West Ocean City, Maryland,  this park is owned and managed by Worcester County Recreation and Parks open to the public for passive recreation. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed and curbed. Physical address is 12500 Nature Park Drive, West Ocean City.

Although Herring Creek Nature Park is not a restoration project created by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the program assisted in finding funding for the project and wanted to highlight it as part of the Restore the Shore Trail.

Around 1996,  Worcester County purchased this plot from a a developer who ran out of funding for a proposed project.  The County and the West Ocean City Association held a public hearing to allow the public to voice their opinions for what should happen to the 40 acres of undeveloped land. There were a few hang-ups such as sewage not being permitted for the plot, that led the county and public agree to make the land a nature park.

In order to receive funding to create the nature park, the County received money in exchange for the State taking a portion of the 40 acres to implement mitigation techniques that would alleviate some of the environmental impacts nearby wetlands were facing. Once the design was complete, the final decisions were to have a nature park that was solely created for the surrounding neighborhoods to have a place to walk and enjoy nature. Construction was completed in 1997 and included interpretive signs, bird houses, and a trail that takes you on a journey through five different habitats: a wildflower meadow, pine forest, scrub-shrub forest, frog pond, and salt pond (Kester-McCabe). Since no sewage was permitted at the location, a compost bathroom was installed. The nature park is open to the public from dusk – dawn since there is no electricity at the park. The fact that there is no electricity, no sports fields, or plumbing on the park grounds makes it a very minimally developed green space with prime habitat for many species to enjoy, especially birds.

This restoration project provides a green space for the local community to reconnect with nature amid a heavily developed area. It’s not only a space for birders to enjoy during the Spring and Summer months, but also one of the few locations where children can go sledding in the Winter.  A fun fact about this park is a former head of the County Parks and Rec was married on the hill. This park is a great example of partnership between multiple government agencies and the community.

Thank you to the partners that worked together to create this restoration project.

Sources:

  • Kester-McCabe, D. (n.d.). Herring Creek Nature Park. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  • Rowe, personal communication, February 23,2021

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Become a member of the Coastal Bays Foundation and donate online securely through PayPal. Your financial contribution will go toward protecting our watershed, its habitat, and wildlife. The Maryland Coastal Bays Program Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; all donations are tax deductible.