Baltimore native and restaurant owner Ted Bauer has awarded from his family’s trust, The Charles T. Bauer Charitable Foundation, a $1 million grant to Irvine Nature Center to purchase 93 acres adjacent to its property on Garrison Forest Road. With the land grant, Irvine will be able to offer 210 acres of open space for additional educational programs and trails. The grant honors Bauer’s father’s commitment to education and the environment.
Irvine Executive Director Brooks Paternotte unveiled the news recently to a team of Irvine naturalists and, during a walk on the property, “they were like kids in a candy store,” he said.
On the hour-long tour, the team spotted a merlin, a northern harrier, as well as red-tailed, Cooper’s and red-shouldered hawks. The possibilities the land has for bird walks, field trips, campouts, and more excited the experts, who see endless opportunities for the nature center.
While the property’s proximity to Irvine appeals, the condition of the property is also an added plus. The center purchased the land from neighbor Jonathan Farber, who devoted much time and care to its preservation.
“Jonathan was a good steward of the land,” said Paternotte, pointing out Farber’s reforestation efforts to revert the former farmland back to its native state.
Because of his care, Irvine can begin the first phase of its plans: taking inventory of the natural resources, marking its perimeter, and mapping out trails. Paternotte envisions connecting the trails to Irvine’s existing trails to provide nearly ten miles of trails. Nestled within a secure envelope of conserved land in the Caves Valley, the property is like an oasis and opens so many possibilities for Irvine. In future phases, Irvine hopes to create an outbuilding and platform tents to enhance its expansive outdoor education.
One of Paternotte’s favorite programs at Irvine is its overnight camping trips. Standing in the tall grass of the new property, one can envision how the program will grow with the added space. Paternotte marvels at the wildlife population that abounds and the wonders it will hold for urban students who do not have the benefits of experiencing the great outdoors.
These opportunities would not have been possible without the gift from the Charles T. Bauer Charitable Foundation. Several months ago, Ted Bauer began exploring ways he could help Irvine. After considering assorted needs, he zeroed in on the property, recognizing its potential.
“To me, the land was intriguing…it made such a difference,” he said. After touring the land, he was convinced. “It was too cool for Irvine to miss out on.” As a proponent of land preservation, he saw this as another way to enhance conservation in the Caves Valley. With the purchase of the parcel, nearly 1,500 acres of land in the valley will be protected.
The gift particularly resonates for Bauer because he and his father spent a lot of time together enjoying the outdoors. After college, his father worked summers for the Appalachian Mountain Club and hiked the Presidential Range. Growing up, Bauer and his father hiked in the White Mountains together.
Bauer remembers a particularly challenging trail, the Davis Path, that they traversed twice. In honor of his gift and the hiking experiences shared by father and son, Irvine will name a new trail system The Bauer Path.
The timing of the gift coincided with Irvine’s 40th birthday and comes at a time when Irvine welcomes 70,000 people annually to its facility. Paternotte sees the possibilities the new property creates to attract more visitors and enhance educational programs. Nestled in the Caves Valley, Irvine is “everybody’s backyard.”
In reflecting on the gift and the legacy of his father, however, what has moved Bauer as much as improving Irvine is the shear happiness he saw in the faces of the center’s supporters, many of whom have been affiliated with Irvine for generations.
“To see happiness brought to so many, it is true that [in this case], the giver receives the gift,” he said.
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