Lower Gunpowder Falls
The Lower Gunpowder Falls Watershed is located in the central eastern portion of the County. The Lower Gunpowder begins at the Loch Raven Reservoir Dam and flows generally eastward where it meets the tidal portions of Gunpowder River. Major tributaries in the watershed include Minebank Run, Long Green Creek, Sweathouse Run, Haystack Branch, Jennifer Branch and Bean Run.
The mainstream of the Lower Gunpowder Falls forms a unique geographic divide in this watershed with very rural countryside to the north and a very urbanized area on the southern side. The land to the north is primarily agricultural in nature and includes the communities of Long Green, Hydes, Glen Arm, Fork, Kingsville and Upper Falls. Land south of the river consists of developed areas such as parts of Towson, Carney, and Parkville, the commercial corridor along Joppa Road, and newer, rapidly developing areas such as Perry Hall. The valley forming the Lower Gunpowder Falls main stem consists of heavily forested lands that are part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park. The park, Maryland’s largest, is a popular destination for fishing, birding, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
The Lower Gunpowder Falls watershed is also home to Cromwell Valley Park, which is owned and operated by the Department of Recreation and Parks. Located in the Minebank Run stream valley, this 367-acre park includes pasture, open fields, forests, hedgerows, cultivated fields and floodplain; these mixed habitats make it an excellent area for diverse wildlife. The Department of Recreation and Parks hosts events and educational programs year-round for children and adults with a focus on farming, history and natural history. A portion of the park is a demonstration farm, illustrating animal husbandry and sustainable and organic farming. The farm also operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm program. The County recently completed a major stream restoration project on the Minebank Run through Cromwell Valley encompassing three stream miles.
Previous Watershed Studies
The Lower Gunpowder Falls Water Quality Management Study was completed in September 1999. The plan identifies non-point source stormwater pollution, management measures and a restoration framework for Baltimore County's Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability's watershed restoration program. View the executive summary (PDF).
The Lower Gunpowder Falls Watershed Assessment was completed in June 2011 to provide the county with assessments of potential sites for stream restoration projects. Stream restorations, such as the previously referenced project on Minebank Run in Cromwell Valley Park, use state-of-the-art techniques to reduce sediment, nutrients and pollution to the County's streams and waterways.
Small Watershed Action Plan (SWAP)
There is a SWAP currently in development for the urban portions of the Lower Gunpowder Falls watershed. SWAPs identify strategies to bring a watershed into compliance with water quality standards. Strategies go beyond traditional government capital projects and include actions that may occur in partnership with local watershed associations, citizen awareness campaigns and volunteer activities.
A public community meeting was held June 16, 2015, at Perry Hall Middle School which drew many attendees from the local community. A few short presentations were made by county employees and consulting experts, followed by lively discussion amongst participants to share what the community’s priorities are for restoration goals. Presentations provided general information about SWAPs, an overview of the SWAP area from a geographic perspective, and a brief overview of the project status to date. A second public community meeting will be scheduled for early September to discuss the project near Plan completion.
For more information about SWAPs in general, view the What is a SWAP? Presentation (PDF) that was shown at the community meeting.
To participate in watershed activities, contact your local watershed association, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy.
Revised July 14, 2015