Howard County, Maryland is frequently lauded for its high quality of life and has experienced significant and sustained population growth since the 1950s. Home to over 300,000 people today, the County continues to attract residents with their well-performing school district, diverse communities, accessible open spaces, robust recreational amenities, historical heritage, and mixture of urban and rural communities. Howard County is dedicated to sound planning that supports strengthening the access to parks and facilities and enhancing the benefits of open space in order to sustain this high quality of life amid the challenges of a growing and increasingly diverse community.
The 2017 Howard County Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan is the result of a 16-month research, engagement and planning effort that aims to provide Howard County residents and visitors greater access to programs and amenities, expand and preserve protected agricultural land, and enhance the long-term benefits of natural resources and open space – ensuring that the system will prosper for future generations. The Plan reinforces the accomplishments of previous planning efforts in the county and provides a vision for access and growth that balances the preservation of historic and natural assets with intensive investment in increasing access to amenities for the county’s diverse, growing population.
The vision for Howard County’s recreation and parks system predicated on the achievements of the system in providing the best programs and services for the community that allow the County to focus on creating a vibrant future. It complements the Department’s vision, mission and core values, and does not seek to replace the existing vision.
Recreation and parks, natural resources, and agriculture are integral to the County’s history and legacy, recent successes within the system, and future opportunities for innovation and growth. The vision is a holistic approach to achieving these goals; it maintains the dense, neighborhood features of the eastern communities and seeks to preserve undeveloped lands in the west, but also encourages synergies to create One Howard.