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Ilia Fehrer Nature Preserve

This location is not open to the public yet; upon restoration completion, the preserve will be available for passive recreation.

Like the Lewis Road Kayak Launch, Ilia Fehrer Nature Preserve is also located within the 4,000 acres of contiguous forest of the Holly Grove Swamp Area.

MCBP is currently in the preliminary stages of developing a trail network that will connect the eastern and western parcels that make up the preserve. These trails meander through various stages of forest succession and offer a glimpse of native habitat critical to many species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The majority of the preserve is classified as an estuarine and palustrine wetland complex, with the remained of the property residing in uplands. A portion of the eastern parcel of IFNP lies adjacent to Ayres Creek, making the property an excellent corridor for paddlers to potentially break up day trips on the water by stopping along the banks of Ayres Creek and exploring the preserve.

This 431-acres property was purchased in 2011 with a federal grant from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program which enabled Worcester County to acquire the tract for conservation uses in perpetuity. A portion of the tract contained a 65-acre loblolly monoculture. Part of the purchase agreement was to restore the pine silviculture to reflect the surrounding Holly Grove Swamp forest community.

Maryland Coastal Bays Program and Worcester County completed the silviculture harvest phase of the restoration in 2015 and continued restoration through altering the water flow to approximate historic levels in 2019. The waterflow process was hampered by past forestry practices including bedding (a process of planting in rows), drainage ditches and existing decking areas (areas created to demote growth). Recontouring of the bedding and reshaping of the bedded rows on approximately 10 acres—completed in 2019 by DNR—has altered the water flow which is expected to encourage wetland vegetation re-growth and allow for greater groundwater recharge. Funding for the project was through a grant from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.

This park is named after a local environmentalist, Ilia Fehrer. She was a Lower Eastern Shore environmentalist who worked tirelessly for the preservation of the Pocomoke River and Nassawango Creek, and was co-founder, with her husband, of the Worcester Environmental Trust.  She was instrumental in preserving Assateague Island as we know the seashore today, helping to halt plans for development on the island.

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