Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition

Chesapeake Conservancy staff are working to advance urban wildlife conservation, public access, and environmental opportunities in Baltimore. The newest effort in which the Conservancy is engaged is the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, spearheaded by the Chesapeake Bay Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The initiative will work to create a resilient network of parks and open spaces in Maryland and D.C.’s urban areas.

The Greater Baltimore Area contains a diversity of landscapes, from agricultural and forested lands, to the patchwork of houses, lawns, and trees in the suburbs, to urban neighborhoods in the heart of the city. Throughout these landscapes is a network of protected outdoor spaces, connecting area residents to Baltimore’s rich natural and cultural resources.

The Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition (GBWC) is advancing this network of protected lands in an effort to strengthen community connections to nature throughout the region. The Coalition has developed four core pillars to guide its work in the region: Resilience, Biodiversity, Equity, and Discovery.

Resilience  The Coalition seeks to improve regional capacity to respond successfully to the impacts of
climate change through green infrastructure investments.
 

Biodiversity

 

The Coalition supports new partnerships and initiatives to reconnect, restore, and protect
habitat by enhancing the network of protected land and water resources.

 

Equity

 

The Coalition believes access to nature is a basic human need and strives to expand
opportunities for an increasingly urbanized population to connect with nature.

 

Discovery

 

The Coalition believes a protected green infrastructure network provides the best classroom for
a life of learning about and becoming stewards of our natural world.

To raise awareness and help launch the initiative, the Conservancy has produced a map with National Geographic of the Baltimore Wilderness area to highlight the green infrastructure network and local resources. Additionally, the Conservancy is working on supplemental projects to contribute to GBWC’s efforts. These projects include a speaker series with Dr. Mamie Parker inspiring urban youths to embrace the Chesapeake, and a landscape analysis for the Baltimore region that will result in a green infrastructure plan that identifies and prioritizes new areas for public access and wildlife habitat.

A cornerstone of the Greater Baltimore Wilderness initiative, Masonville Cove was designated by the USFWS as the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in 2013. These partnerships aim to help the conservation community engage city dwellers. The Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and nature area allow public access to the cove, as well as offer classroom space, walking trails, a fishing pier, and a ramp for paddle craft. The partnership’s continued efforts will help inner-city residents connect with the Chesapeake Bay and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.