More Acres, More Trails, More Space to Explore Campaign

For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has been the destination for students from Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester and Wicomico Counties to discover and connect with the natural world through exploration, science and engaged learning. During that same time, its 400 acres has offered a haven for individuals, community groups and families of all kinds who seek the peace, enjoyment, exercise and magical sightings that nature provides.
The Center completed a Master Site Plan in 2016 and Strategic Plan in 2020. One of the highlights of both of those plans is expanding the habitat and trails that are part of Pickering. As a result of ther Master Site Plan, eleven acres were donated to the Center in 2016. In 2018, Pickering leadership began a process with a neighboring landowner who holds two of the four highest priority parcels for the Center. The definition of high priority parcels is twofold. First, those that pose both a risk to guests expereince at the center as well as disrupt local habitat if they are logged or are developed as home sites. Second, parcels that have the best opportunity for creating more outdoor exploration opportunities for our community on new trails. The pandemic stalled the process for a while, but last fall discussions began again with the landowner. Over the course of the pandemic other neighborhood parcels have been logged, whch underscores the importance of preserving remaining forest habitat in the County as well as gives a stark reminder of what can happen on parcels near the center. Discussions with the neighbor highlighted his desire to recoop his original investment through either logging the parcels or developing three home sites on them.
A steadfast supporter of the center offered a generous opening gift to get the process started. In March the two parcels, totalling 63 acres were put under contract for Pickering and our fundraising effort began. We have now raised 80% of the funds required to acquire the parcels, create trails, integrate the parcels into the centers overall campus, ensure we can maintain them over time and seed future protection of neighboring lands.
Pickering Creek Audubon Center surrounds these parcels on three sides, sharing in total 1.28 miles of common border. South of the parcels is our main campus’ back meadow, which includes a new trail and viewing platform. North of the parcels is Pickering’s Peterson Woods. On the eastern side, across Pickering Creek’s headwaters, and only 125 feet at its closest and 325 feet at its farthest, visible from our main campus’ “Farm to Bay Trail” that winds its way through the woods, which serves as the primary classroom for 70% of our school groups.
An additional 63 acres of woods to explore will offer the community and students who visit Pickering at least two miles of new trails through a spectacular woodland adding to the existing trail system and connecting the main campus with the Peterson Woods. New trails will offer great walks through mature woods, and all the wildlife sightings that come with undeveloped land that provides critical habitat in the vicinity. Bushy tailed red fox and a gang of wild turkeys has been spotted marching through the woods, along with countless songbirds and this spring’s salamander eggs in the vernal pools. Spring woodland wildflowers abound, chorus frogs happily sing on spring nights, Barred Owls nest in beech tree hollows and mountain laurel flourishes. There are two notable creek overlooks, with views of the Center’s main campus woods directly across the creek. Two streams with amphibian laden vernal pools run through the property adding nice diversity to the habitats we already have. All of this could be protected from development and logging, and shared instead with visitors young and old.
With your help, Pickering Creek Audubon Center will be able to offer increased green space for the public to explore and expand the places for children to explore as they develop their understanding of natural systems and the part they play in them. By connecting people of all ages to birds, the habitats they need to survive, and the unparalleled beauty of the Chesapeake Bay region, we can inspire this and future generations to steward their surroundings. Please contact Mark Scallion at mscallion@pickeringcreek.org if you would like to help.