Wicomico County Considering New Park at Pirate's Wharf - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Considering New Park at Pirate's Wharf

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Wicomico County boundary sign at Pirate's Wharf. (Photo: WBOC) Wicomico County boundary sign at Pirate's Wharf. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md.- Wicomico County leaders this week met with officials from Maryland's Program Open Space.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss options for the proposed park on the county-owned land, known as Pirate's Wharf.

Wicomico County has owned land on either side of Whitehaven Road, near Whitehaven, since 1997.  On the left side of the road is 240 acres of forest.  On the right side of the road is farmland and an old farmhouse.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver told WBOC the county has been talking about what to do with the land for the past 20 years and he is anxious to get a project going.  Back in 2014, a Forest Stewardship Plan was developed for the land and Culver is ready to move forward with it.  The idea is to select cut some of the forest in specific areas while rotating what is cut over time.  Culver said the forest will not be clear cut.  The county executive said the money produced from harvesting the timber would go toward the development of a park on that county land.  The park would include trails for walking and biking along with possibly an outdoors education center.  Culver also added there are species of trees in that forest that are overdue to be cut and it is creating a crowding problem in the forest.

However, not everyone is in favor of the harvesting idea.  John Giffin is a senior at Salisbury University.  As his capstone project, Giffin and three other students are creating a documentary highlighting the importance of preserving Pirate's Wharf forestland.

"So this is very important because they house an ecosystem.  And there things that are in the back part of it; things called vernal tide pools and they habitat things like amphibians that are growing and insects and things like that," Giffin told WBOC on Friday.

Giffin said it was crucial to preserve that "old growth forest."  The SU senior added the forest was well over 100-years-old and old-growth forests were becoming increasingly rare in the US.  Giffin is also a member of the facebook group, Friends of the Forest - Salisbury, which is a group advocating for the preservation of the forest.

Also part of the plan at Pirate's Wharf is the removal of the old farmhouse along the waterfront.  A handful of neighbors in Whitehaven told WBOC they would love to see the property converted into a space to hold events like weddings.  However, Culver said the house is in disrepair and to restore it would cost over $100,000.  

Culver said there is no timetable for the park project to begin but he wants to get the ball rolling.  The project has been put out to bid but Culver said there has to be a dry year in the county before the timber can be harvested.

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