Watefront Partnership Unveils ‘Baltimore Blueway’ Master Plan of Paddling Trails

| August 14, 2023 | 0 Comments

Waterfront Partnership press release from August 3rd:

Today, Waterfront Partnership joined Mayor Brandon Scott, Maryland State Comptroller Brooke Lierman, Councilman Eric Costello,representatives from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and others at Rash Field Park to unveil the master plan for the Baltimore Blueway, a proposed network of eight water trails and 20 access points for paddlers that will connect cultural, historic and natural sites throughout Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Middle Branch. 

“The Baltimore Blueway presents an exciting opportunity for our city, state and region, and Waterfront Partnership is committed to leading this effort to bring water recreation back to the Baltimore waterfront,” shared Adam Lindquist, vice president of Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative. “After years of restoration, the Harbor has reached a tipping point where it can now be managed as a recreational resource,” he added.  

The Baltimore Blueway launch comes after a coordinated effort led by government, nonprofit and business leaders, under the banner of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, to make the Harbor water significantly cleaner today than it has been for decades after leaking sewers and industrial pollution made water quality a recognized risk.  

“Baltimore’s waterways are one of our city’s greatest and most unique assets, and I am thrilled to join the Waterfront Partnership and so many other partners in making this announcement about new enhancements to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Middle Branch water trails,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This project represents a significant step forward in our commitment to enhance recreational opportunities, to preserve our natural resources, and to foster a deeper connection between our residents and the environment. The water trails will not only provide a scenic escape right in the heart of Baltimore, but also promote a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for our residents and visitors. Together, through this project, we are helping ensure our waterways are protected as a lasting legacy for future generations.”  

The plan marks the end of a yearlong planning phase led by Biohabitats, a Baltimore-based environmental consulting company, that included gathering community input from a Project Advisory team, a public input event and a survey. Included in the plan is a proposed network of eight water trails, the hiking equivalent of a hiking trail or “greenway,” made up of interconnected access points and rest stops weaved throughout the Inner Harbor and Middle Branch. The trails span a range of settings, from the urban energy of the Inner Harbor to wildlife viewing along the Patapsco River. The trails serve a variety of skill levels and proposed enhancements prioritize increased accessibility and safety with public kayak launches, signage, rental facilities and more.  

“Being able to access and enjoy these water trails throughout the Inner Harbor and Middle Branch will bring another recreational amenity to Baltimore for residents and will attract new visitors to the city,” Comptroller Brooke Lierman said.  “Baltimore Blueway is an innovative and exciting way to revitalize local communities with an outdoor activity that highlights clean waterways and healthy lifestyles.” 

Now, with the plan complete, Waterfront Partnership will move into the next phase of actualizing the Baltimore Blueway. Lindquist emphasized that bringing the Baltimore Blueway to life will take vision, collaboration and funding, which will require leadership and partnership at all levels. Progress is already being made with an announcement today of $125,000 in funding from the Baltimore Tourism Improvement District for the addition of a priority access point in the Inner Harbor. The new kayak launch will open next spring at the promenade adjacent to Rash Field Park.  

“Multiple scientific studies have shown that recreational access to water improves a community’s wellbeing and economic prospects,” said Daryl Anthony, Executive Director of Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Outdoor Recreation. “By increasing paddling opportunities in the Baltimore Harbor we’re enabling more residents and visitors to exercise and enjoy a waterway that’s being reclaimed for a brighter future. Today’s master plan announcement represents another step in the right direction for the Harbor and the water quality improvement work happening throughout the watershed.” 

Studies throughout the country on water trails show the strong benefits that Blueway’s have on communities and by combining the marketing power of Baltimore’s many waterfront attractions with outdoor recreation, the Blueway can establish Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as a recreational resource for the region and State of Maryland by enhancing economic activity and revitalization, bringing together communities and promoting healthy lifestyles. 

The plan was funded by the Abell Foundation, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Baltimore National Heritage Area and Waterfront Partnership. 

 The full Baltimore Blueway plan can be viewed online at baltimoreblueway.org. 

Screenshots from the plan

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.