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Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA)

In coop­er­a­tion with the Mid­dle Patux­ent Envi­ron­men­tal Foun­da­tion, Howard County Dept. of Recre­ation & Parks man­ages the 1,021 acre Mid­dle Patux­ent Envi­ron­men­tal Area (MPEA). The main focus of the MPEA’s mis­sion is 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 tra­di­tion­ally found in this region.


Ongo­ing nat­ural resource man­age­ment projects in the MPEA include meadow habi­tat restora­tion, nat­ural resource inven­to­ries (bird sur­veys, veg­e­ta­tion sur­veys, etc.), for­est man­age­ment, deer pop­u­la­tion man­age­ment, stream water qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing, and the vol­un­teer program.


The objec­tive of the MPEA vol­un­teer pro­gram is to involve mem­bers of the com­mu­nity in many aspects of the MPEA’s man­age­ment. These oppor­tu­ni­ties include:

Devel­op­ment and main­te­nance of the trail system:

  • Help main­tain the 5.4 miles of hik­ing trails mainly by prun­ing back veg­e­ta­tion encroach­ing on the trails. Oppor­tu­ni­ties include super­vised Group Work ses­sions and train­ing to become an Inde­pen­dent Trail Main­te­nance Volunteer.

Fight the inva­sive exotics that threaten native species:

  • Weed War­riors — are vol­un­teers who are trained to work inde­pen­dently to remove inva­sive plants in the MPEA.
  • Con­ser­va­tion Stew­ard­ship Project – vol­un­teers are encour­aged to join in to work with Rec. and Parks staff to remove inva­sive plants. Vol­un­teers meet monthly March to June and Sept. to Novem­ber on the fourth Tues­day of the month. Open to any­one over 18 – under 18 needs an adult with them.

Study the diverse flora and fauna communities:

  • July But­ter­fly Counts — part of the North Amer­i­can But­ter­fly Asso­ci­a­tion (NABA) pro­gram, vol­un­teers will con­duct counts at 4 dif­fer­ent parks in the Howard County area. Occurs on the 3rd Sat­ur­day in July.
  • Frog­watch USA — mon­i­tor a sec­tion of the MPEA twice monthly from March-July and enter data into the online database.

Habi­tat man­age­ment projects:

  • Nest Box Mon­i­tor­ing — vol­un­teers mon­i­tor and main­tain the 22 nest boxes in MPEA’s grass­land restora­tion plots and enter col­lected data into the Cor­nell Lab of Ornithology’s Nest­watch online database.

Jeff Claffy


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