June 1, 2015

BALTIMORE, Md.—Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, together with Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, today launched the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, a new effort to develop more public lands and trails, conserved wetlands and resilient watersheds in Baltimore and Central Maryland.

With support from The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Conservation Fund and other local government and nonprofit organizations, the Coalition will work to expand the number of green spaces by better protecting natural areas and restoring previously neglected sites in Maryland.  The location of today’s event, Ridgely’s Cove, is one such site. With the vision of Coalition partners, Ridgely’s Cove, a former industrial location, can be transformed through ecological and habitat restoration to better serve the local community and native wildlife.

“By transforming Ridgely’s Cove into a network of connected trails, parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Baltimore can lead a national movement to develop more green infrastructure and urban wilderness in our cities,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “With these green spaces, we can not only provide more recreational opportunities for citizens, but also improve environmental education opportunities and better connect our young students to the natural world.”

“The City of Baltimore is proud to be a part of the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Baltimore is already a national leader in resiliency, and we are eager to collaborate with partners at the regional scale to support interconnected and healthy lands contributing to the economic vitality, resiliency and quality of life for the residents of Baltimore, the greater region and our visitors.”

“The Coalition supports efforts to reconnect, restore and conserve habitats for wildlife while also working to provide a way for people to visit and enjoy these natural places” said Jim Kurth, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “At a time when growing urbanization makes it increasingly difficult for children and families to access nature and the outdoors, this is an opportunity to work together on our conservation goals to benefit people and wildlife.” 

"This Coalition presents an exceptional opportunity to work with our public and private partners,” said Mark Belton, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It also creates an opportunity to expand Maryland's GreenPrint – our invaluable network of natural landscapes that protect water quality, support abundant fish and wildlife populations, and enhance the quality of life and experiences for all citizens and visitors.”

“This really is an exciting opportunity for every person, young or old, to discover and learn about the natural world,” said Curtis Bennett, Conservation Projects Manager at the National Aquarium. “Citizens that value and understand their local environment are likely to be its most engaged caretakers.”

Five science-award winning teams of students from City and regional high and middle schools will exhibit their projects about findings from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.

Coalition members at the signing included representatives from Baltimore City, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Aquarium, Hispanic Access, Parks and People Foundation, Prince George’s County, SavATree Consulting Group, American Planning Association, Center for Chesapeake Communities, The Chesapeake Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, USGS  Northeast Regional Office and Baltimore Washington Partners for Forest Stewardship. 

About the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition
The Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition is a voluntary alliance of public agencies, non-governmental organizations, professional associations and conservation coalitions that supports the vision of expanding a connected and protected green infrastructure network in central Maryland, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Piedmont. Its mission is to improve the quality of life by identifying, restoring, enhancing and protecting an interconnected network of lands and waters that support healthy ecosystems and communities. For more information about the Coalition, visit: http://www.conservationfund.org/projects/greater-baltimore-wilderness-coalition

Press Release Contacts
Daniel Jacobs | Congressman Sarbanes | 202.225.4016
Tylar Greene | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | 413.658.8139
Erik Meyers | The Conservation Fund | 703.908.5801 | emeyers@conservationfund.org