Nature in the Park
Forest Management Plan
In 2017 the city commissioned Biohabitats, a local environmental consulting firm, to create a Forest Management Plan for the Park. The result is an extremely detailed inventory of the dominant over- and under-story species of the forest, as well as a thorough catalog of the location and density of non-native invasive species. Check it out here.
Bioblitz is an event where participants work together to identify and record as many living organisms as they can. The first Leakin Park Bioblitz, in April of 2018, resulted in hundreds of observations and recordings. Since then, many other intrepid naturalists have added to the recorded species in the park. Bioblitz was held in Leakin Park again on April 27, 2019. Stay tuned for Bioblitz 2020! View all of the Park's observations here.
Dr. Ela-Sita Carpenter, a West Baltimore native, studied the bats of Baltimore as part of her PhD project. Ela wrote about the bats of Leakin Park for our Winter 2017 newsletter. See the excerpted article here.
The Park is blessed with several notable trees. These are trees which are at least 70% of the size of the State Champion of a species. Check out the tree listings, search for Baltimore city, and scroll down to find several Notable trees in Gwynns Falls Leakin Park.
Carrie Murray Nature Center
Carrie Murray Nature Center is operated by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, and it offers environmental education programs for children, families and adults. Their programs serve an estimated 30,000 visitors annually, serving individuals and families as well as groups from schools, faith-based groups, recreation centers, and camps. During the school year, the nature center offers field trips and outreach programs for students of all ages including the Wild Haven forest immersion program for preschool-age children.
Greater Baltimore Wilderness
Ambassador species were chosen by Greater Baltimore Wilderness as representatives of four habitats and niches in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. These animals represent a variety of conditions that are present in high quality environments that support human, plant, & wildlife health.
Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School
The Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School (CBOBS) is an educational nonprofit that operates one of its two campuses inside Gwynns Falls Leakin Park. Their character education programs focus on teaching social emotional learning (SEL) skills to middle and high school youth, with programs available for educators, professional teams, and veterans as well. CBOBS has served nearly 100,000 students since being established in 1986, over 90% of which receive some form of scholarship to attend Outward Bound. Programs range from one-day high ropes teambuilding to multi-week wilderness expeditions taking students backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing or sea kayaking across the Chesapeake Bay Region.
In the spring of 2000 a mystery lay buried beneath a mountain of overgrowth, even as the Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park set about clearing invasives from the Eagle Drive loop that leads to Orianda House.
For two GFLP activists, both of Cherokee descent, the discovery of an exquisite arboreal treasure — and their dedication to its rescue — became sacred work. One was local historian Rick Smith, and the other was teacher Antonio Carpenter, who led his family, friends and followers for nearly a year in the cutting away of tangled grape vines 30 feet high, sometimes 50 yards long and 12 inches in diameter — the whole tedious jungle of them eleven city blocks in length once removed. When their work was complete (abetted by Jo Orser and Heide Grundmann, and experts from the Department of Recreation and Parks), three rows of nine trees again saw sunlight, for the first time in years. To Antonio these were 27 significant lives, to him they were green people, they were special beings. A year later the arbor spoke its gratitude: all 27 trees bloomed.
Their blossoms are magenta-colored, their perfume intense. They are saucer magnolias, Magnolia soulangeana, a double allée of triple plantings, set in the ground in 1978, designed by Gerard Moudrey, Chief of Horticulture for Baltimore City. Thereafter, for 30 years, neglected.
Now, very spring in early April, they burst forth to become Baltimore’s most intoxicating tribute to spring — to regeneration and new life. This magnificent Magnolia Grove and Antonio's nearby addition of a Hopi Labyrinth (Tapu’at) comprise the Gwynns Falls Leakin Park Native American Heritage Sacred Space.
You are welcome to come experience them, and to feel their joyful peace, which springs from heartfelt connection to Nature.