There are over 45 parks in Howard County in which to enjoy the abundant woodland our area has to offer. Conservation helps ensure the protection of the trees and forests and there are many reasons to conserve and manage this precious resource. They include but are surely not limited to:
Oxygen Production: Forests are a major source of oxygen production, which makes us all breathe much easier.
Riparian Forest Buffers: Forests along streams and rivers reduce the amount of sediment and excess nutrient runoff by trapping and absorbing these pollutants as they move through the landscape.
Flood Control: Forests can soak up nearly eight inches of rain per hour helping to reduce runoff and therefore lessening the frequency and severity of flooding and its effects.
Groundwater Recharge: Through the absorption of rainfall, the forests help recharge groundwater by slowly releasing it into streams and underground aquifers.
Wildlife Habitat: There are hundreds of animals that make the forest their home, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects and birds. Not only do they rely on this ecosystem for shelter but also for food, water and nesting areas.
Wood Resources: Of course all of us come in contact with some type of wood product everyday. Without managing our forests we could endanger our ability to utilize this resource for homes, furniture, the daily newspaper, craft projects or even that cozy crackling fire in winter.
Scenic Beauty: Often overlooked is the aesthetic value of our forests. You most likely have enjoyed the scent of the spring forest with its beautiful flowers or certainly marveled at the brilliant colors of the leaves in autumn.
Recreational Opportunities: There are many recreational opportunities in the forest such as hiking, camping, hunting, bird watching and photography, just to name a few.
Generations to Come: Lastly, let us not forget that our generation is only here for a short time. It is imperative that we manage these lands to ensure their long-term viability for future generations.
Howard County’s Forest Conservation Program was implemented in 1993. To date, thousands of acres across Howard County have been protected in perpetuity through the creation of hundreds of forest conservation easements. Although some of these are located on public land, many are located on commonly owned community open space, and may also be located on private property. The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning’s Forest Conservation information can be found on their Environmental Planning webpage. You can learn more about how to care for forested areas near your home and more by viewing the Educational Guides to Forest Conservation Easements.
Recreation and Parks
Howard County’s Recreation and Parks Department monitors, protects, and enhances County-owned parks, forests and historic resources. Their Natural Resources webpage explains their programs including Forest Conservation inspections and enforcement. Their Forestry webpage has more information including the Stream Re-Leaf program.
EMERAL ASH BORER WARNING
Help us protect our ash trees from this exotic invasive insect by not transporting wood into or out of the County. More information can be found HERE.