BERLIN – While the restoration of a former golf course outside Berlin continues, the space is now open to the public.
The Bay Club, the former golf course on Libertytown Road outside Berlin, has been quietly open to the public since the fall. While trail work has not yet begun, the 672-acre property is already being frequented by hunters and birdwatchers.
“With the restoration activities that are planned by the Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife, MD DNR, and Lower Shore Land Trust, the former golf course will be a haven for people and for wildlife,” said Kate Patton, executive director of the Lower Shore Land Trust.
In 2020, the land trust began working to assist in the purchase of the Bay Club by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). After three years, the transaction was completed, resulting in the state’s acquisition of 672 acres to be managed by the Maryland Forest Service.
“Mowing of the site and preparations for constructing the parking areas began in late November,” said Alexander Clark, forest manager. “We hope to have the northern parking area off of Libertytown Road open and ready for use by the end of February to allow better public access to the property. The trail construction/reconstruction is an ongoing project, but will happen concurrently with the mowing.”
Patton said that with the efforts of the state agencies and local organizations such as the land trust, a variety of restoration projects would improve the site as well as the public’s access to open space.
“The project is one that expands public access to natural areas in the northern part of the county,” said Patton. “Community engagement efforts will help guide the trail development as access for equestrians, hikers, cyclists, and other passive recreation activities such as birdwatching. The site has already become noted for birdwatchers.”
Jared Parks, land programs manager for the Lower Shore Land Trust, said the nonprofit submitted a grant proposal last month seeking restoration funding for wetlands and native pollinator meadows for the Bay Club property.
“Paired with the reforestation that the forest service is doing, the property will be nearly unrecognizable from the golf course it was till recently,” he said.
The land trust has plans for 18 acres of pollinator plantings near both parking areas. The wetlands restoration would be throughout the property.
“The trail system was designed to take advantage of the useable infrastructure from the old cart paths, so the public can access a lot of the area and experience the restoration work and habitat creation that we will be completing,” Parks said. “The location of this facility near Berlin is important as the community will have easy access to the area and visitors from elsewhere will have access to the services provided by the town.”
He’s hopeful the land trust’s proposal will be approved for funding. If so, that work will begin later this year. He added that whether that grant is received or not, the property would still be undergoing the mowing and access improvements planned by the Maryland Forest Service.