Renovated Stream, Pond, Forest and New Accessible Trail Add Rare Amenity to Nature Spaces
CHEVY CHASE, MD – The Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) is on the path to enhancing the DC region’s vaunted status as one of the most accessible regions in the United States. Nine local, state, and federal elected officials joined ANS leaders and board members today in person and via video for the official groundbreaking of ANS’s Nature for All project. A key feature of the $4 million project is installation of a rare-in-this-region wheelchair-accessible trail at Woodend Nature Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, MD, the headquarters of ANS.
Nature for All has begun with restoration of the eroded banks of Clean Drinking Stream and the accessible nature trail made of permeable bonded gravel that will soak up stormwater and prevent flooding. When completed, the project will include English and Spanish nature interpretation, forest restoration and an accessible Nature Play Space for children.
ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander said, “At this critical time, when people need nature to de-stress from our pandemic-laden world, we are excited to create an accessible trail that will enable people of all abilities to experience 25 acres of the four habitats at Woodend: our stream, pond, forest and meadow. Woodend will be one of the only destinations in the DC metro region where people who use mobility assistance devices can experience these healing spaces.”
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who shared remarks via video said, “At a time when the outdoors is the healthiest place to be for our physical, mental and emotional health, this inclusive project will ensure that all individuals of all abilities will be able to experience the varied habitats of the local urban oasis at Woodend Sanctuary.”
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen honored ANS with a Citation, “In recognition of ANS’s outstanding commitment to making nature more accessible to all Marylanders, with appreciation for its efforts to help our community appreciate, understand, and protect our natural environment through environmental education and advocacy, and with gratitude for all it does to enrich our community.”
ANS Board President Nancy Pielemeier shared the senators’ remarks during the ceremony.
Maryland State Delegate Jeff Waldstriecher said “I am deeply grateful to the Woodend Nature Sanctuary for their dedication to protecting our natural environment through outdoor experiences and education. It was my honor to work with the entire District 18 Team (Delegates Carr, Shetty, Solomon and me) to secure funding for this project.”
Maryland State Delegate Al Carr added, “By designing the projects to include stream restoration, a wheelchair accessible nature trail and permeable parking, ANS has shown true leadership in making this regional treasure even more accessible and environmentally friendly.“
Jared Solomon, Maryland’s District 18 State Delegate, said, “I am proud my colleagues and I successfully secured funding for the Audubon Naturalist Society’s essential “Nature for All” project. It embodies all that we value here in Montgomery County – preservation and protection of our parks and streams, and accessibility for all. This will be a true oasis for everyone in our community.”
Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich (pictured) said, “Montgomery County is proud to partner with ANS. We have a responsibility to preserve our beautiful, fragile natural resources and to educate our community about the importance of protecting the environment. ANS is central to that work.”
Montgomery County Council Vice President Albornoz said, “As our environment experiences cycles of change, it is essential that we continue to support green initiatives such as Nature for All in order to preserve our natural resources for future generations.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass said, “Accessibility to these parks and trails is essential for full and fair utilization and enjoyment. I applaud the Audubon Naturalist Society for leading the way toward creating more sustainable and accessible environmental programming for everyone to enjoy.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando delivered remarks (via video). “I’m very proud of the work that you’re doing to inform the public about the environment and the importance of protecting it, and including historically disadvantaged and underrepresented and groups in your efforts to make sure that we reveal all the great things in nature.”
Beth Ziebarth, a member of ANS’s Board of Directors and Director of Access for the Smithsonian, who uses a wheelchair, observed that, “With an accessible nature trail, we have the opportunity to provide all people in our region, including veterans at Walter Reed and schoolchildren, with the opportunity to relax, heal and learn in nature.”
ANS Director of Restoration and Education, Alison Pearce, noted that, “During this time when people of all ages are working on screens all the time, having a place where people of all backgrounds and abilities can enjoy and learn about nature is so important.”
Nature for All is being made possible by generous individuals and foundations, such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the France Merrick Foundation, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland State Highways Administration, Maryland State Bond Bills, Montgomery County Capital grants and hundreds of members and supporters.
About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS‘s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.