Howard County’s rich farmland and abundant forests create an ideal setting that naturally attracts a variety of wildlife. Over 150 species of birds, fish, mammals, plants, and reptiles call this area home. Preserving the environment while protecting the safety of all of its residents (humans, animals, and plants) is a delicate balance, but vital to the protection of our land and its inhabitants.
Middle Patuxent Environmental Area
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks manages the 1,021-acre Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) in cooperation with the Middle Patuxent Environmental Foundation. This natural area contains a diversity of habitat types. The upland and bottomland hardwood forest, fields, wetlands, ponds, and riparian (riverine) habitats are home to a diversity of wildlife, including an impressive list of about 150 species of birds, over 40 species of mammals, and numerous amphibians, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, plants and other wildlife. The primary components of the MPEA’s mission are natural resource conservation, environmental education, research, and passive recreation. The area is managed using ecosystem management concepts to restore and protect the diversity of communities found in this region. Five and one-half miles of hiking trails, with two interpretive nature trail brochures, give visitors an opportunity to enjoy and learn about the area.
Other Environmental Areas
Howard County has a number of sites designated as environmental areas. These are sites where no sports or organized athletic activities are allowed. They were set aside for the purpose of protecting and conserving the natural resources and are there for the enjoyment of those who take pleasure in passive recreational activities such as walking/hiking, bird watching, plant and animal identification, photography, etc. They all feature walking paths or trails and offer a broad variety of habitats and ecosystems for your viewing pleasure. None of the sites have restroom facilities.
David Force Stream Valley Park
This park is a 221-acre natural resource area that is relatively undisturbed. This area is allowed to remain as an important forested area to protect water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and support recreational hiking and nature observation. Check out the webpage for more information and Trail Map.
Font Hill Wetlands Park
This environmental education park features mostly open and lightly wooded areas, hard surfaced paths and boardwalks, two ponds (fishing only at large pond on Centennial Lane side of park), observation areas, and a stream. (25 acres) Parking only on Font Hill Drive side of park.
Patuxent Branch Trail
Mostly wooded featuring a scenic pathway (3.4 miles total) with historic interpretive signs. This section of pathway connects Savage to the Lake Elkhorn loop path (hard surfaced).
There are MANY more Howard County parks and trails for you to explore. For a listing of parks and environmental areas, please visit the Howard County Parks Directory. You will find more details about the parks, forest conservation and wildlife.