By Chuck Macdonald
Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails Board Member Diane Evans faces a daunting task.
As a volunteer, she shepherds a handful of other volunteers who assist a small county cadre of park rangers and maintenance staff in caring for Jonas Green Park, a 10-acre parcel lying at the foot of the Naval Academy Bridge.
Her primary responsibility as a Friend of Anne Arundel County Trails is caring for the ever growing number of gardens that grace the park. Additionally, she raises funds for amenities such as benches, trees and bushes and serves as a liaison between the county and community organizations that treasure the park as much as she does.
She was all smiles at 9 a.m. on Saturday as a group of over 150 midshipmen and other volunteers ambled down Route 450 after a stirring ceremony at the World War II Memorial honoring those men and women who lost their lives serving our country and those who perished on 9-11.
“For 16 years I’ve had a vision for Jonas Green Park, to bring more color and texture to it, to spruce it up, while maintaining its informal appeal. When offered the opportunity to join the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails and help realize this vision, I jumped at the chance. This park boasts one of the most beautiful vistas in the county. It’s a place for quiet contemplation or more active pastimes such as yoga, fishing, painting, enjoying a family cookout or picnic,” she said.
On September 7 she had plenty of help in beautifying the park on a day featuring the park in all its glory. A small cluster of fisherman spun their lines into the Severn while a kayaker pushed off from the beach into the river. A slow stream of runners and bikers trickled into the park, taking advantage of the parking place as an ideal spot to begin or end a workout.
Upon entering the park, the Midshipmen divided into groups of 10 to attack the various projects that were planned. Watershed Stewards Lara Mulvaney, Ken Hatch and Dory Tate prepped them about their responsibilities while Diane divvied up the other chores. Walking one of the teams toward a rain garden she asked if they knew what it was. “No ma’am,” a second-year Midshipman replied. “But we would be glad to learn from you.” She showed the team where the three rain garden are and how they function – helping capture rainwater as it collects oily deposits from the parking lot and allowing it to infiltrate slowly into the ground rather than pollute the Severn River. “Three years ago the Midshipmen participating on the first annual Day of Service built these rain gardens,” she said.
Other teams undertook the less glamorous jobs of weeding and mulching the various trees, bushes and roses throughout the park. “Weeding is a never ending battle,” she said. “It’s like laundry or dishes, it’s never done,” she told them with a smile.
In addition to the Midshipmen, volunteers organized by the Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County brought teams to work. Wegmans, Valpak of the Chesapeake, churches, Anne Arundel Community College and high school students seeking community service credits swelled the effort. “The company has encouraged the franchises to do volunteer work,” said Sue Aquilino of Valpak as she crouched down to dig up weeds. “This looked like a great event for our groups. And look at this weather!”
The Volunteer Center ensured those participating had gloves and the tools they needed to accomplish their projects. All tools were rented from the Baltimore Tool Bank. Trails staff provided mulch and assistance setting up. The volunteer effort was also supported by grants and donations from BGE, Wegmans and The Brick Companies.
Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, enhance and protect trails and parks in Anne Arundel County, including the B & A Trail, WB & A Trail, BWI Trail and Jonas Green Park. For more information, including maps and descriptions of the trails, go to http://friendsofaatrails.org.