SNOW HILL – The Pocomoke River State Park will expand by 212 acres following acquisition of the former Nassawango Golf Course.
Last week Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) request to use Program Open Space funding to purchase the former golf course for $1.8 million.
“This acquisition will benefit Pocomoke River State Park as well as the Lower Eastern Shore watershed,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “By utilizing Program Open Space we can enhance and expand our state park, providing even greater public access and recreation, while shoring up the rivers now and into the future.”
According to Park Manager Cineva Smith, the 212-acre property had been on the market for close to a year prior to DNR’s interest in it. She said the benefits the property could provide to the Pocomoke River watershed were the driving force behind the acquisition.
“The Cypress Swamps along the Pocomoke River provide resiliency to climate change and help to slow flooding by acting as a natural sponge that traps and slowly releases surface water, rain, ground water, and flood water,” Smith said. “The possibilities of offering additional access to the Pocomoke River Water Trail and to become the first golf course reclamation project in Maryland Park Service history were also appealing to the state.”
Smith said a portion of the golf course property bordered the Pocomoke State Forest and would provide a future link to the Algonquin Cross Country Trail Network, which is popular among hikers, bikers, runners and equestrians. The new land will also give the park the opportunity to expand its amenities—which currently include campgrounds, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, trails and ponds—and to initiate more resource conservation projects.
“Natural resource conservation projects, such as reforestation, pollinator meadows, and native gardens, will help create a sustainable landscape on what was once considered a mono-culture of golf course greens, roughs, and fairways,” Smith said.
Public access to the newly acquired property will be restricted initially as park officials mitigate any potential dangers, such as hazardous tree limbs or condemned structures. After that, Smith’s staff will prepare the property for visitors by paving entrance roads and building bathrooms. She says citizens will have the opportunity to share their views on the new property, which brings the park’s total size to 1,126 acres.
“We look forward to scheduling public input sessions where Worcester County residents, Maryland Park Service visitors, and our community partners can provide their ideas and visions to help us develop a strategic management plan for what will join Shad Landing and Milburn Landing to become the third area of Pocomoke River State Park,” Smith said.