Carroll Creek Wildlife Park

The Carroll Creek Wildlife Park (CCWP) began in 2002 as a restoration and rehabilitation project of a local Frederick cow pasture. The project envisioned a passive recreation area that would ultimately serve as an environmental educational center, and as a link to alternative regional transportation.

The site is located behind the Frederick County Health Department building at 305 Montevue Lane. It encompasses approximately 40 acres of historical pastureland and 3,000 linear feet of the main stem of Carroll Creek. Habitat restoration, riparian buffer establishment, invasive plant eradication, wetland enhancement, and the construction of a wildlife meadow have all been completed at the site, which is open for public exploration.

The environmental science senior seminar classes at Hood College have worked on the CCWP project for more than a decade. Students collected baseline data on water and habitat quality before restoration began, and incorporated that data into restoration plans. The construction phase of the project was completed in 2004-05, and senior seminar students continue to monitor the progress of the site. Over time, many important metrics of environmental health have improved dramatically, thanks to the restoration efforts.

This project was supported by the EPA and the following organizations: the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Potomac Valley Fishing Club, Community Commons, and Hood College.

Over the course of the last three centuries, population growth has caused the CCWP site to evolve from a oak-forested wild area, to a functioning agricultural field, to its current state as an urban stream site. Until the early 2000s the site was used for agricultural grazing adjacent to the Frederick County Health Department building.

Basic Timeline:

  • Early 1700s: settlement of Frederick County and the beginning of intensive agriculture.
  • July 28, 1746: The Brunner family purchases the land containing the park.
  • 1820 – 1860: Alms house built on the site by the Brunner family.
  • 1869: Alms house building renovated into the Montevue County Hospital.
  • Early 1900s: Overcrowding becomes an issue at the hospital.
  • 1970: Frederick becomes a commuter city for the D.C. and Baltimore areas.
  • 1987: Hospital demolished and replaced by the Frederick County Health Department.
  • 2002: Work on the CCWP begins; Frederick becomes the state's second largest city.
  • 2004/2005: Construction on the CCWP site ends and monitoring begins.

Regional Context:

  • Frederick County is part of the Piedmont geographical region.
  • Carroll Creek Wildlife Park resides in the Frederick Valley.

The following direct download resources are appropriate for elementary and middle school students.  The Kid-Friendly Flower Guide is appropriate for all ages, but geared toward a younger audience.

Created by the senior seminar students:

Activity  Packets:

Websites that contain useful environmental resources for teachers and educators:

What is restoration?

The goal of restoration is to restore a natural environment to a previous condition and reverse environmental degradation caused by human activities.  The first problem of restoration is deciding on a desired baseline.  Human activity will always be a factor in the natural environment, so this baseline must be realistic and take human influence into account.  Once a baseline is proposed, a plan is made to reconstruct the area.  Reconstruction in a tributary environment like the CCWP usually involves planting trees, stabilizing stream banks, and altering stream flow and sinuosity (how winding the stream flows).  The overall goal is to repair the function of the riparian buffer zone and increase habitat diversity, hopefully restoring biological diversity as well.

What is conservation?

Conservation is the act of preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife.  After restoration efforts have been performed, conservation and monitoring techniques are used to make sure the natural system is maintained and kept healthy over an extended period of time.  The overarching goal of conservation biology is to preserve the environment and species within it in order to protect as much biological diversity as possible.  Biological diversity is a mark of health in natural environments; the more species persist in an area, the healthier the natural environment is generally considered.

Why is conservation and restoration useful?

Environments in a healthy condition offer much more to humans then degraded ones.  The goal of restoration is to restore a degraded environment to a more useful state.  When in proper condition, a healthy riparian zone offers protection from flooding and drought.  The trees along the banks stabilize the soil, reducing erosion and sedimentation downstream. Trees and vegetation remove pollutants and excess nutrients from land runoff, which reduces nitrification downstream.  Roots and vegetation along the bank can create habitat for invertebrates and fish.  Invertebrates are an important food source for fish, and fish become a valuable recreational activity for people enjoying the natural environment, as well as a possible source of revenue for parks and landowners.

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystem services is a term used to describe the services the environment offers people for free just by doing what a healthy ecosystem does naturally.  When a natural environment is healthy, riparian zones offer buffering from flood and drought, and clean land runoff so the water downstream is healthier for those ecosystems.  Ecosystems downstream, notably the Chesapeake Bay, can become highly degraded by upstream pollutants and effluents.  Managing this problem can be quite costly when upstream environments are degraded.  By resorting upstream environments, ecosystem services are restored, and the water downstream is cleaned at the source.  In the long run, these restored areas become economically beneficial, because what we spend millions of dollars trying to fix – such as cleaning water through treatment plants or dealing with algal blooms after they happen – the environment can mitigate for free.