St Mary's County
St. Mary’s County has 400 miles of shoreline. It is a peninsula surrounded by the Patuxent River on the eastern side and the Potomac River on the west. Much of the county is characterized by flat sandy soils with some steep slopes along the Patuxent side. In 1995, the population of the county was 83,342 and is projected to reach 106,550 by the year 2010. The county’s growth areas include the Lexington Park Development District; the Charlotte Hall, Mechanicsville, Hollywood, Piney Point, Callaway, Chaptico, Clements, Loveville, Ridge, St. Inigoes town centers; and the Valley Lee Village Center.
St. Mary’s County covers approximately 231,280 land acres. Eighty-three percent (83%) or 191,963 acres are zoned agricultural. Agricultural lands are located throughout the county and are only interrupted by towns and military installations. The county has approximately 1,500 acres of public county or municipal parkland while the state has approximately 3,000 acres. The county has recently adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that recommends significant changes on how and where the county should be growing, including implementing a revised Transfer of Development Rights program.
The county’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Preservation and Recreation Plan recommend the creation of greenways throughout the county especially as alternative transportation routes between town centers. These include new and existing neighborhood bike paths and new and existing recreational trails. The Land Preservation and Recreation Plan identifies five potential greenways in the county. The 1999 Comprehensive Plan encourages better land use management and incentives to direct more development into the county’s growth areas and out of their Rural Preservation District. As the site of Maryland’s original state capital, St. Mary’s County is rich in cultural and historical resources.
1) Chaptico / Mechanicsville / Huntersville Greenways
The Chaptico Greenways is a potential recreational trail that would follow along the Chaptico Creek stream valley and provide open space protection. The area currently features forests and steep slopes.
2) McIntosh Run Greenways
The McIntosh Run Greenways is a potential greenways along McIntosh Run and Forest Landing Cove. The greenways would cross over the proposed Washington, Potomac, and Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail, and could serve as a link between the Potomac River and Patuxent River. This mid-county greenbelt would serve as a buffer around Leonardtown, one of the two development districts in the county. Leonardtown has purchased a former SHA property that could be a gateway park. The county has also done a watershed plan for assessing resource conditions.
This corridor would provide a connection between Breton Bay and Greenwell State Park. Presently, there is no protected land along the corridor, but it is possible that dedications could be made during future subdivision development, and any gaps could be eliminated with local acquisitions.
2a) Leonardtown Loop Trail
The Leonardtown Loop Trail is a potential recreational greenways that follows the alignment of a utility pipeline and could connect to the county’s Dorsey Park.
3) Patuxent Regional Greenways
The Patuxent Regional Greenways is a partially established greenways that includes seven jurisdictions extending from central Maryland through southern Maryland. The Patuxent River serves as the spine for the greenways which runs through Howard, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties. DNR currently owns about 15,000 acres along the Patuxent River and is working with local officials to extend protection along the mainstem.
In St. Mary’s County, several land holdings along the Patuxent River protect diverse areas in the Patuxent Greenways. The Sotterly Plantation preserves the historic mansion, farm, and their environs. Not far downriver, the 590-acre Greenwell State Park preserves open space with a focus on outdoor programming for handicapped persons. The county’s Myrtle Grove Park adds to the green space and provides access to the water. At the mouth of the Patuxent River, the Patuxent Naval Air Station includes extensive areas set aside as wildlife habitat anchoring the southern end of the greenways.
3a) Patuxent River Water Trail
The Patuxent River Water Trail is a potential regional water trail route along the Patuxent River from Patuxent River Park to the Chesapeake Bay.
4) Potomac River Greenways
The Potomac River Greenways is a potential extension of the 180-mile existing greenways along the Maryland side of the Potomac River. A greenways along the river in St. Mary’s County would incorporate historic, water-oriented recreation and natural area conservation themes.
Historic areas currently protected along the river include St. Clements Island State Park (the site where the first colonists landed), Piney Point Lighthouse, and portions of St. Mary’s City. Public park areas include the Chaptico Wharf Recreation Area, Robert E. Poge Park (Brushwood Wharf), Piney Point Recreation Area, St. Inigoes Recreation Area and the recently expanded Point Lookout State Park. Point Lookout State Park includes protected natural areas as well as recreational opportunities. The recent addition to the park provides a connection to a Boy Scout camp which helps to extend the greenways network.
There are about 1,100 acres of land protected along the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County. Additionally, the St. Mary’s River State Park and St. Mary’s City provide destination points on an arm of the Potomac River Greenways along the St. Mary’s River.
4a) Potomac River Water Trail
The Potomac River Water Trail is a potential water trail component to the Potomac River Greenways. St. Mary’s County is currently gathering information on a series of sites and public lands that offer access to the water.
5) St. Mary’s River Greenways
The St. Mary’s River Greenways is a potential greenways along the St. Mary’s River that could connect St. Mary’s City and St. Mary’s River State Park. This greenways could also connect to the proposed extension of the Potomac River Greenways.
5a) St. Mary’s River Water Trail
The St. Mary’s River Water Trail is a potential water trail route along the St. Mary’s River between St. Mary’s City and St. Mary’s River State Park.
6) Washington, Potomac and Chesapeake Rail Trail
The Washington, Potomac and Chesapeake Rail Trail is a potential rail trail along a 25-mile abandoned rail line owned by the county. The corridor generally parallels Rt. 235 in north and central St. Mary’s County. Much of the right-of-way remains intact except a portion that was incorporated in the expansion of Rt. 235. This trail could provide a linkage between Charles County and various points in St. Mary’s County. The corridor runs close to St. Mary’s State Park and ends at Patuxent Naval Air Test Center.
7) Wicomico Scenic River Water Trail
The Wicomico Scenic River Water Trail is a proposed water trail route along the Wicomico River.