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Planning Board OKs Purchase of More Land for Black Hill Regional Park

The area of protected land in the Black Hill Regional Park area in Boyds will increase after the Montgomery County Planning Board’s decision to purchase additional land along Slidell Road in Boyds.

At the Planning Board meeting held last Thursday, March 17 the Board approved a plan to acquire the Rable Property, which is 89.312 acres of land that will be added to Black Hill Regional Park for the negotiated purchase price of $1,030,000 to be funded through the Legacy Open Space Capital Improvement Program with County G.O. Bonds, according to the Planning Department’s Staff memorandum recommending the purchase.

“The Rable acquisition is important to the park system for several reasons,” said the Planning Department’s memo. “It can provide a much-needed trailhead and parking lot to support the natural surface trail network in Black Hill Regional Park and beyond. This trailhead will help to implement the vision for connecting the natural parklands and recreational trails between Black Hill Regional Park, Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park, Ten Mile Creek Conservation Park (present and future portions), and Little Bennett Regional Park. In addition, the site will provide public parkland to preserve mature interior forest canopy in a sensitive watershed, add to the Best Natural Area in Black Hill Regional Park, protect the water quality in Little Seneca Reservoir, and provide trails and other resource-based recreation opportunities for the growing community of Clarksburg.”

The 89-acre property is currently owned by Philip G. Rable and Richard P. Rable as trustees of the Vinnie M. Rable Revocable Trust and is zoned as Rural Density Transfer land, which means that it cannot be developed beyond agricultural use as farmland or associated agricultural uses with a special exception.

The land is located at the northwest corner of Black Hill Regional Park, is completely forested, and does not contain any man-made structures. The site does have a network of unimproved roads that could be partially incorporated into a multi-use trail network, according to the Planning Department.

The site also contains two streams within the Ten Mile Creek watershed that drain directly to Little Seneca Lake within Black Hill Regional Park. Several observed wetland areas and seeps provide additional habitat diversity on the property and supports the stream quality of the Ten Mile Creek watershed, according to Planning Department documents.

Planners believe that the beyond the $1.03 million to acquire the property, both short term, and long term management costs would be minimal. The initial start-up costs to clean up the area, remove unwanted fences and debris, install signage and security gates at access points. Planning Board staff estimates those costs would fall between $5,000 and $15,000 would be covered by Legacy Open Space funding. Additional costs of about $30,000 would be required to install a trailhead parking area which would be funded through Maryland National-Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Natural Surface Trails Implementation.

“There are no features on this acquisition that are expected to increase operating expenses measurably for Black Hill Regional Park. A rough estimate of Operating Budget Impact for this additional acreage, after installation of a parking lot and trailhead, is around $5,000 per year,” according to the Planning Department memo.

Photo courtesy M-NCPPC.