One prominent resource of interest to our future economy and our environment is the Patuxent River, which is largely held in the public commons. Adjacent to Fort Meade is a large chunk of federal land called the Patuxent Research Refuge (not to be confused with the Patuxent River State Park or county parks such as Prince George's Patuxent Park). The navigable reach of the Patuxent River ends short of these environmental preserves, as the British discovered to their dismay during the War of 1812. Their largest vessels had to stop well below the headwaters, disembarking troops at Benedict, MD in preparation for their assault on the nation's capital. That won't stop shallow-draft boats and barges from inland commerce up the Patuxent in the fossil-fuel deprived future that soon awaits us, especially as sea level rise backs up the tidal force to maintain wider and deeper channels all along its course. Environmental preservation will take a back seat to economic necessity in order to move goods via waterways in and out of populated areas, but that will be balanced out by the return to the wild of some areas which are economically unsustainable.
Developed landscapes that fall into neglect are vulnerable to invasive species, which also often include pioneer scrub plants such as thistles. Returning to a more beautifully advanced stage of wild can be fostered by a method now being practiced at the Patuxent Research Refuge by Master Gardeners. It is being taught to Master Gardeners in many counties through a series of workshops for creating foundation seedbeds of native plants. The process includes (1) Native plant rescue/seed saving (2) Seed sowing, and (3) Maintenance and propagation of foundation beds. Planting a foundation seed bed and collecting the seed from the mature plants allows a gardener to propagate natives via:
- starting plugs or pots of local genotype native plants, (for community greening projects and MG plant sales and demo gardens)
- providing parks with genetically appropriate seed for restoration of areas after invasives removal or other soil disturbance
- sowing native meadows
- making wildflower seed packets, or
- selling to produce income or raise funds.