Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Recognize Adkins Arboretum’s Regional Contributions

The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners (QACC) passed a proclamation on March 24 recognizing Adkins Arboretum’s many contributions to the region through its education, recreation, cultural and research programs. In taking this action, the commissioners joined the Caroline County Commissioners, who have also provided letters of support to Maryland’s House Appropriations and Budget and Tax Committees for Adkins Arboretum’s 2009 capital bond bill request.

The Arboretum is seeking a $500,000 capital bond bill to provide partial support for the second phase of its first capital expansion since its founding. The proposed capital improvements will include an events green; installation of an environmentally sensitive entrance and parking area; a stormwater management system; and native garden and habitat restoration demonstration areas to enhance the grounds of its new green visitor’s center.

The proposed capital improvements will enable the Arboretum to serve the region as a model for land stewardship practices consistent with its conservation mission. The new visitor’s center, included in the first phase of capital improvements, is to achieve the highest standard of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy, Environment and Design (LEED). Construction of the new building will include nontoxic, recycled, and local materials; an innovative energy efficient heating and cooling system; and other sustainable building methods.

QACC’s letter of support indicates that Queen Anne’s County is proud to endorse Adkins Arboretum as a special regional asset. The letter cites the Arboretum as becoming a centerpiece of the Eastern Shore’s ecotourism industry through significant growth over the past decade in its membership, visitorship and programs. The Arboretum is open daily year round, with a staffed visitor’s center serving more than 18,000 visitors, of whom 5,000 are children.

In the proclamation, QACC recognized Adkins Arboretum for completing its 30th year as the only botanical institution promoting the conservation of flora native to the mid-Atlantic coastal plain. Adkins Arboretum’s diverse setting of woodlands, meadows, wetlands, streams and gardens also serves as a model for land management and ecological restoration. Because of its numerous education programs and seasonal events, the Arboretum was also recognized as serving as a community gathering place, providing a safe and healthy environment for families to enjoy being in nature.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve located in Ridgely on the shared border of Queen Anne’s and Caroline counties. Leon Andrus, Queen Anne’s County philanthropist and former owner of the Record-Observer, was the Arboretum’s first benefactor, creating an endowment that continues to support the Arboretum’s operating budget. The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Program, founded in partnership with Queen Anne’s County Agricultural Extension in 1998, donates thousands of hours to the Arboretum each year, providing critical support for its conservation outreach and programs.

The Arboretum’s existing Visitor’s Center, a 4,000-square-foot building, was built in 1985 by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Under a 50-year lease agreement with Maryland DNR, the nonprofit organization Adkins Arboretum, Ltd. operates and finances the Arboretum, with leadership from a Board of Trustees and more than 150 active volunteers who facilitate programming, docent-led tours and more. Philanthropic, foundation and grant support will allow construction of the expanded Visitor’s Center to begin later in 2009. $4.5 million has been raised to date to fund both phases of the capital improvement projects.

For more information, visit Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, call 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or visit www.adkinsarboretum.org .