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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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Trails Get a Boost Across the Shore

Trails are a hot topic right now across Maryland, particularly on the Eastern Shore. Many communities are busy working on trails, while the Maryland General Assembly is reviewing the Great Maryland Trails Act.  

This legislation would create a collaborative Trails Team between the Departments of Natural Resources, Planning, and Transportation. It would also create a Maryland Trails Advisory Group and would develop and maintain a Maryland Trail Network. The concept is one that has been adopted already by several other states, including Virginia. States with a Trails Office or Team have been better at building trails and leveraging federal funding for both planning and development. View details on the House and Senate bills.

ESLC staff have been tracking this bill since before the start of the General Assembly and have been in contact with the bill sponsors. ESLC supports the bills

and has submitted written and oral testimony before the House Environment and Transportation Committee. Watch the hearing here.

At the Bike Maryland Symposium in February, ESLC also spoke with shore delegates and senators about the benefits this bill would bring to our communities. 

With the Great Maryland Trails Act in place, there would be more resources at the state level for our smaller local governments on the Eastern Shore to access funding and technical assistance for trails. This is critical, because part of the reason why the Eastern Shore has fewer trails than the rest of the state and neighboring states is a lack of capacity within our local governments.

This is also why the ESLC-led Eastern Shore Trail Network Steering Committee is working to assist local governments in their visions and continues to work with staff from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to develop a regional trail coalition.

The goal of the steering committee has been in part to bring more attention to the benefit of trails, build more support, find opportunities, and make the case for developing trail master plans in our counties and municipalities. 

At the same time, we want to applaud the great work being done in our towns and counties. This includes: 

  • Dorchester County is in the process of railbanking the inactive line from Preston to Cambridge.
  • Queen Anne’s and Worcester counties are developing trail master plans.
  • Queen Anne’s County is using Program Open Space funding to expand its South Island Trail with the plan of one day connecting it to the Cross Island Trail.
  • Easton continues to develop its trail network as outlined in their master plan.
  • Galena is developing plans with funding from the state and Kent County for its trail to Toal Park, which could eventually extend to Georgetown.
  • Salisbury, Oxford, St. Michaels, and Princess Anne were all recently awarded Bikeways Grants from the state.
  • The Town of Berlin recently awarded a Federal Grant to design a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Route 113.
  • Other towns from the bay to the beach are applying for funding to plan and build trails.

The Eastern Shore now has a regional trail map, and we are developing our Vision, Mission, and Values Statement for a coalition. On April 27, the steering committee will host a series of trail walks in honor of Celebrate Trails Day to showcase the many benefits trails bring, show the broad support in our communities, and applaud more of the great work being done. 

The link between trails and conservation is in the intimate connection that trails create to our unique rural landscape on the Eastern Shore. Trails provide safer access and experience of our landscape, which is more valuable than seeing it while driving by. In connecting people to the land we show them why it is worth conserving.

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