First published in the September 2019 Equiery

On August 12, the Friends of Liberty Reservoir, a nonprofit group of residents and trail users, posted a message on its Facebook page that Baltimore City has decommissioned several trails in Liberty Reservoir. The group held a community meeting on August 15 with nearly 50 people filling the meeting room. Most expressed concern that by closing these trails, access to other parts of the reservoir will be cut off.

Baltimore City owns the reservoir that crosses over portions of Carroll and Baltimore counties. The City has announced it is decommissioning these seven roads: Murray Road, Content Lane, Poole/Pouder Area, Glen Falls Road, Old Oakland Road, Wards Chapel Road, Cockeys Mill Road to MD 140 and Ivy Mill Road. According to the City, these roads have not been maintained for at least the past five years.

Friends of Liberty Reservoir have offered to help maintain these trails and others within the reservoir system, and according to a Carroll County Times article on August 19, Jeffrey Raymond (spokesman for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works) said, “The Baltimore City Department of Publics Works is willing to discuss with the Friends group the safe, responsible operation of the Reservoir property.”

Trail maintenance and open space was a hot topic at last month’s Maryland Horse Forum. Many at the Forum urged those riders that use trails to reach out to the agencies that own or have jurisdiction over the land, to offer their help with maintenance. Jurisdiction can be at the city, county, state or federal level depending on the property and park system.

One such group that has had success working with county officials to preserve large areas of trails systems is the Carroll County Equestrian Council.

“Since 1984 the Carroll County Equestrian Council has worked with the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks as well as the Bureau of Facilities to provide multi-use trails on County owned land,” said Carolyn A. Garber, CCEC secretary. “Volunteers established and constructed the trails network by working with County staff. Trail maintenance continues today with the Carroll County Equestrian Council recruiting volunteers, establishing scheduled trail work dates and requesting assistance from County staff, if needed.”
Garber went on to say that, “the Carroll County Equestrian Council also continues to work with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Patapsco Valley State Park, as the management agency for the trails at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area (NEA.)”

She credits the 1993 National Trails Day as “the awakening of the power of volunteers when the trail clearing event held at Morgan Run NEA and the efforts of Carroll County Equestrian Council were recognized as one of the 10 winners nationwide in the Trails for Tomorrow program sponsored by the National Hiking Society.” That was the first time an equestrian organization had participated in the program and since the event, many State Parks continue to participate in the National Trails Day event.