More than 130 people stepped forward in support of our recently concluded “More Acres, More Trails, More Space to Explore” campaign, exceeding the campaign’s 2.5 million dollar goal. This September Pickering Creek was able to acquire 63 acres of woods adjacent to the Center’s 400-acre main campus and allocate money for trail creation as well as trail maintenance and improvement across the campus. Together we were also able to add to the Center’s endowment to ensure our ability to care for these new acres and trails and seed future land protection efforts around the Center. This marks the Center’s second acquisition of land in the last ten years, preserving invaluable undeveloped land in Talbot County for the entire community to benefit from- both wild and human.
Over the last 30 years, Pickering Creek has played a major role in providing space in the community for people seeking places to enjoy nature for exercise, respite, and outdoor exploration and learning. “Over the next three years we will work to create trails throughout the new woods, adding new dimension to Pickering’s already fantastic trail system, and fully integrating those trails within our main campus,” says Director Mark Scallion. New interpretive panels, trails maps will be sprouting up during that time to both celebrate the expanded property lines as well as ‘mulch the pathway’ to new and exciting learning adventures.
When brother and sister George Olds and Margaret Strahl donated Pickering Creek’s main campus in the early 1980s they envisioned a place where everyone in the community would feel welcome as they explored nature as it is intended. In 2016, shortly after the completion of the Center’s Master Site Plan, Pickering Creek Audubon Center received a generous donation of a home within a 10-acre woods across the Creek from the Peterson Family. The Petersons envisioned that their gift would expand Pickering’s ability to reach new people and encourage others to imagine the fantastic impact for the community that comes from expanding the center’s acres and protecting it boundaries.
In 2018, a significant lead gift allowed us to begin evaluating our ability to acquire the 63 acres adjacent to the center which were at the time being prepped for sale and/or development. Our process was slowed by covid and then a decision to amicably part ways with the National Audubon Society, however the urgency did not let up. As one of the projects key supporters stated again and again, “They are not making land anymore.”
Together, we envisioned protecting important forested land for wildlife, protecting the Center’s wild experience for everyone from school kids to trail hikers. Beyond that we saw the opportunity to offer more trails to explore at Pickering Creek. And since we see the best classroom that was ever built is the great outdoors itself– and not a building– creating an even bigger classroom for adventures at Pickering Creek would be an excellent choice for the community. The property features large oaks and tulip poplars and is home to turkey, barred owls, beaver, spring peepers and wood ducks.
The addition of these acres will add tremendous opportunities for discovery for our school year program participants as well as summer camp kids. We envision campers canoeing across the creek to these woods and having wild experiences exploring a remote woodland seemingly disconnected from the rest of the world they usually explore. A new great place with logs to climb over, toads to catch, salamanders to search for and big trees to lie under.
Over the next three years the Center will add new trails for individuals and families to explore and seamlessly connect them to main campus trails accessed from the main parking area near our farm buildings. Expect the first trails to open in late 2023.
Pickering will be offering guided walks through these woods on the second Wednesday of every month in the afternoon from December through next May. These guided opportunities will share big trees, beautiful creek views and the peaceful quiet of these delightful woods that have only been enjoyed by a very small handful of people and myriad wildlife over the last 50 years. Sign up for a walk at www.pickeringcreek.org