Don’t spare money, spare our parks

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice cancelled a program on Wednesday that would have charged state park visitors a $2 cover fee.

Now, I’m a 21-year-old broke college student so I’m a firm believer in the old adage that every dollar counts.

However, when I step back and think about the cancellation of this program, I can’t help but be a little perplexed.

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Photo by Jordan Cope: A tree is coated with a trailblazer at Gunpowder Falls State Park in Harford County, Maryland.

Growing up in Harford County, Maryland, I never had to pay a cover charge to go into any of my favorite local state parks.

It wasn’t until I moved to Edgemere, Maryland, to help take care of my aging grandmother that I realized that some state parks had a cover fee.

I remember my first time ever visiting North Point State Park. I drove my truck through what felt like a never ending maze of pavement until I found myself at a kiosk. At the kiosk was a park employee asking me for $3, which I did not have.

That day, I was told nicely to leave so I went to Fort Howard Park instead. However, the next day I came back to North Point with my $3.

When I stepped foot into the park I realized something, the park was very well kept. The lawn was cut beautifully, the brush was trimmed down and there was less trash scattered throughout the park.

It was then I realized that in addition to tax payer money and donations, the park was kept so well in large part to the cover fee.

Not only that, the park was still operating in large part to the cover charge. In fact, many parks across the country are cutting hours just to save money on the daily costs of operation.

So, what’s the solution? The broke college student in me that wants to go out every weekend says no cover charge, but the environmentalist and conservationist in me says go ahead with a cover charge.

Ultimately, we only have one planet to live on. Just one. So if the park services are using my cover charge money as an opportunity to make the establishment better, I’m all for it.

If that means I have to spare a few more dollars in my bank account to go to my favorite state parks, fine. Just continue to keep the parks I’ve fallen in love with happy, healthy and beautiful.

Everyday is Earth Day

In Washington D.C. this weekend, demonstrators will march to promote scientific-based public policy, targeted at the Trump administration in hopes of sparking change.

The “March for Science” will consist of scientists and supporters who oppose Trump’s policies surrounding the environment.

The march is slated to take place Saturday April 22, Earth Day.

Speaking of Earth Day, many cities across the country will be celebrating, looking to maintain and preserve our beautiful planet.

However, 57 percent of Americans believe that the environment will only get worse.

It’s sad to say, but humans are certainly not helping our environment. Taking a look at state parks in Maryland is, well, disgusting.

At Gunpowder Falls State Park, there is an abundance of trash scattered throughout the brush in the woods.

North Point State Park isn’t much better. Not only is there trash lined in plants, there is debris washing up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Maybe the 57 percent of Americans who believe the environment will get worse will be right, as much as that pains me to say.

In March, president Trump proposed a budget that would slash federal funding for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.

If the federal government is not behind the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, how will the community be behind the efforts?

As mentioned earlier, many cities across the country will be participating in Earth Day events.

In Washington D.C. the “March for Science is taking place. In Maryland, there will be a 5k in Annapolis and a cleanup of the Anacostia River.

It is certainly nice to see people pitching in on Earth Day, but the truth of the matter is Earth Day only lasts 24 hours.

If we want to preserve our planet for future generations, we need to treat everyday as Earth Day.

You may be asking, how is this possible? Seriously, everyone, there are numerous volunteer opportunities at Maryland State Parks. Also, please just take the opportunity to pitch your trash into a trash bin.

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Photo by: Jordan Cope; A plastic bag on the trail of Gunpowder Falls State Park.  

I cannot count on two hands how many times I have seen people throw their trash on the ground and get a kick out of it.

If everyone could just treat everyday as Earth Day, maybe our future generations will have a safe and healthy planet that they can call home.

Don’t miss North Point State Park

Is warm weather finally here to stay? Gosh, I sure hope so. Who the heck knows in Maryland, though, the only state where it seems that everyday is a new season!

If spring weather is upon Maryland, it’s time to get out of the house and into the great outdoors, and what better place to spend time outside this weekend than North Point State Park.

Located in Baltimore County in the small city of Edgemere, North Point consists of 1,310 acres and is surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay.

From personal experience, the park has something to offer everyone.

If you like to ride your bike, North Point is a great place to do so. The Park has blacktop trails if you are looking for a smooth ride and grassy trails if you are more adventurous.

The park also has a huge pier that extends fairly far into the Chesapeake Bay. The pier is a great place to watch the boats move about the waters on a warm sunny, or to cast a line into the water if you like to fish.

So, why is North Point so special? I’ll tell you why. There is a small sandy beach area that you can lay a towel down on a hot summer day, work on your tan and take a dip in the water when you can’t take the heat anymore. It’s like a small taste of Ocean City in Edgemere.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that North Point State Park is a great place for you history buffs.

One of the many trails at North Point, The Defenders Trail, was used during the War of 1812 and runs through the park.North Point State Park also hosted the Bay Shore Amusement Park which tourists used to flood from 1906 to 1947.

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A look at the Chesapeake Bay from North Point State Park.

The park even has te original trolley station that used to take visitors to North Point when the Bay Shore Amusement Park was open.

I guess what I am trying to say that this place is more than just a beautiful Maryland State Park, it is a place of rich history.

So, let’s review. Why North Point State Park?

  • 1,310 acres surrounded by the beautiful shores of the Chesapeake Bay 
  • A great park with a lot of trails to backpack or ride your bike  
  • A large pier for those seeking a nice view or to fish 
  • Your own little slice of Ocean City 
  • Rich history all around

Skip the house chores this weekend, everyone. Get outside and see what this Maryland State Park has to offer you!

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A look from the pier at North Point State Park.  

Take in the beauty of Gunpowder Falls

If you’re anything like me, you want spring weather to return to Maryland so you can get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful serenity that our home state has to offer.

On a day when the sky is blue and the temperatures are high, nothing beats going to Gunpowder Falls State Park to take a hike and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Gunpowder Falls State Park was established in 1959 and is one of Maryland’s largest state parks. It is composed of 18,000 acres of land and is located in both Baltimore and Harford County.

Free of charge, Gunpowder Falls State Park offers something for everyone to do on a nice day.

Are you single and looking for something to occupy your time? You can walk more than 120 miles of trails (I don’t recommend doing it all in one day, though).

Looking for somewhere to take the family? Gunpowder Falls State Park has a large river to go tubing down. Just don’t forget the beer for dad.

My personal favorite feature of Gunpowder Falls State Park is the “Pot Rocks.”

The “Pot Rocks” are a series of aged rocks that sit in the middle of the Gunpowder River. They are easy to get to and you can watch the water rush beneath your feet as the river flows.

There is more to the “Pot Rocks” than just a nice view and  place to sit, however. To get to them you must walk two miles along a trail that contains beautiful trees and brush.

You even have to cross through a very shallow stream with the only thing to step on to stay dry is a slippery series of rocks!

The “Pot Rocks” have had such an impact on my life that I can still remember to this day walking the trail with my family and eating a picnic on the rocks.

Gunpowder State Park even offers the opportunity to make money. The park is currently looking for rangers, lifeguards and other positions to be filled for the upcoming summer.

So whether you’re looking for free entertainment, a place to take the family or an opportunity to make a couple extra bucks, Gunpowder Falls State Park is the place for you.