With each passing day it becomes ever more critical to give back to the land. Be it multiyear projects of thousands of acres, or residential scale native gardens, there are many means to achieve the goal of this idea of giving back to the land. One such example may be observed right here in West Ocean City. Herring Creek Nature Park is small and young relative to many other preservation tracts, it is nonetheless an example of both ecological succession, and a successful land improvement project. Located in West Ocean City along the east side of Herring Creek, this small parcel was once was worked for many years as an agriculture field before being abandoned in the sixties.
In 1997, the State of Maryland initiated a project to restore the wetlands lost to development. Walking the park, visitors will notice two wetland sites, with the southern wetland site existing in grasses and shrubs like wax myrtle, while the northern site is populated in bald cypress and other natives adapted to the coastal wetland conditions. There are green ash trees!
The forested land at the preserve is young, but there is a visible healthy succession taking place. Some of the older trees at the park, loblolly pine, were pioneer species that put down roots shortly after agricultural practices on the parcel halted. Younger hardwoods like red maple, southern red oak, and white oak have established under the canopy of older pine. The pine forest portion of the preserve once was a freshwater wetland that was cleared for farming. As is often the case with healing the land, let it be.
There is no better way to get to know an area more than through depth experience. So, if you find yourself in the area and looking for a quiet, quick get away or reset, consider checking out Herring Creek Nature Park. Informative signs are located along the walking trails throughout the parjk, educating visitors about the land improvement project and the ecology at play.