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The Nature Conservancy Honored to Contribute Eastern Shore Trail to Old-Growth Forest Network

Program preserves ancient forests for visitors to connect with nature

SALISBURY, MD | June 12, 2014

The Nature Conservancy’s Prothonotary Birding Trail in Worcester County was dedicated as part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network June 11. The Old-Growth Forest Network includes 10 states, spanning from Virginia to California, and aims to develop a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature.

The Old-Growth Forest Network selected the trail—which is in the Cubler Payne Forest on The Nature Conservancy’s Nassawango Creek Preserve—to be the network’s Worcester County representative. Counties that can support forest growth identify at least one forest that will be forever protected and open to the public. Five other counties in Maryland have land that is part of the Old-Growth Forest Network.

“The Old-Growth Network recognizes that there are many values to this forest beyond the financial value of resources that people could extract from it, and even beyond its ecological value as habitat for rare species,” said Deborah Barber, director of land management for The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/DC chapter. “Once this kind of land is protected in perpetuity, it becomes a place where visitors can experience beauty and wonder.”

The Maryland/DC chapter of The Nature Conservancy acquired the Cubler Payne Forest from Grace Cubler and Gus Payne in two separate transactions in the 1980s. Both sellers wanted their forest to be preserved as is. The Cubler Payne Forest is 55 acres and has been cut at least once since European settlers arrived, but The Nature Conservancy is restoring and protecting parts of the forest, including the Prothonotary Birding Trail, as future old growth.

“We are thrilled to add the Prothonotary Birding Forest to the growing list of forests in the Network,” said Joan Maloof, founder and director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, which already includes Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Hawaii. “We depend on a volunteer in each county to help us identify candidates, which allows the organization to connect to the widespread counties where forests have been added to the network.”

The Prothonotary Birding Trail is one mile long and takes visitors along Nassawango Creek for a close-up look at large, old trees and the beautiful creek itself. The Nature Conservancy collected tree cores this year and determined that trees along the trail are as old as 144 years. Neotropical migratory birds such as the prothonotary warbler once lived in the Cubler Payne Forest, which is a National Audubon Society-designation Important Bird Area. The site is also at the northern-most range of two lichen species recently discovered by scientists at the New York Botanical Garden. The Nature Conservancy’s Nassawango Creek Preserve protects more than 10,000 acres of swamp and upland forest along both sides of Nassawango Creek.

The Old-Growth Forest Network is the first national organization working specifically to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In counties capable of supporting forest growth we identify at least one forest that will be forever protected from logging and open to the public. Then we help families connect with these forests. The result will be a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature. Visit the Old-Growth Forest Network at

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Lindsay Renick Mayer
The Nature Conservancy
(202) 422-4671

Joan Maloof
Old-Growth Forest Network
(410) 251-1800

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