From Anita C. Leight Estuary Center:
Twenty years ago, a unique partnership between federal, state and county resources came together to create one of Harford County’s hidden gems. The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center at Otter Point Creek is one of the few remaining large freshwater tidal marshes in the upper Chesapeake Bay accessible to the public. Located on the shores of Otter Point Creek just off Route 40 in Abingdon, the Estuary Center is open to the public Thursday through Sunday, year round and provides a unique range of low and no-cost family friendly education and recreation opportunities alongside critical research and citizen science initiatives.
On Saturday, September 17, 2016 they will celebrate their 20th Anniversary with an Open House from 10 AM – 4 PM. Everyone is invited to enjoy refreshments, exhibits and family activities including hikes, crafts, critter interactions and more. The event is free and open to all, but donations are welcome.
Later that evening, the current and former staff and volunteers of the Center will gather to celebrate two decades of accomplishment. The invitation-only event will feature speakers past and present from all of the Center’s partners.
The Anita C. Leight Center offers everything from sunset canoe trips to family-friendly science and nature programs, summer camps, weekend activities, exhibits on the Chesapeake Bay, a Discovery Room with a 300-gallon freshwater turtle pond and other critters and more. Citizen scientists regularly assist with research and monitoring efforts like fish seining, turtle tracking, plankton monitoring and plant life cycle research.
“Many people come to hike or boat or enjoy a crafting activity at the Center, but may not realize that there is real scientific research that we do here, also,” explains Kriste Garman, Park Manager. “We are involved in research and monitoring through our partnership with the National Estuarine Research Reserve Maryland. Thorough this partnership we monitor Chesapeake Bay Health, climate change impacts and participate in programs such as the Children in Nature Partnership and ‘Project Budburst’ that looks for changes in bloom times for local plants. We have a whole brigade of volunteer citizen scientists who help in those initiatives along with our professional staff.”
Otter Point Creek is a shallow tributary located at the headwaters of the Bush River. The Otter Point Creek Component consists of two land areas (Leight Park and the Melvin G. Bosely Conservancy) connected by 261 acres of shallow open water. Leight Park is 93 forested acres owned by Harford County Parks and Recreation and home to the Estuary Center. The Bosely Conservancy is 350 acres of tidal marsh and wooded wetlands owned by the Izaak Walton League of America – Harford County Chapter. Through partnerships with Harford County and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), the Center offers public, private, group and school programs. Program activities include canoeing, kayaking, pontoon boating, crafts, hiking, education, animal encounters, and research.
The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources and Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation to serve as one of the three sites that make up the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve of Maryland. Federal, state and county funds, corporate and individual support and donations finance the center and its operations. The Center offers annual memberships that provide discounts for programs and activities throughout the year. To learn more about member opportunities, programs and events, visit http://www.otterpointcreek.org/