Tom Tyler Nature Trail Article by Tyler Walston
Tom Tyler worked for a private logging company (Chesapeake Forest Products), native Dorchester Countian. He was skeptical of the environmental community at first but began to attend meeting and befriended environmentalists. He came to agree with environmental groups, especially with the NWA and CBF, on helping improve the health of the Nanticoke River by leading educational tours and planning river cleanups. He began planning a demonstration forest on one of the tracts, but passed away before he could complete it.
Shortly after Tom Tyler’s death, CFP sold lands to DNR forest service on the condition that it be used for commercial timber harvesting and recreation. The CFP holdings became Chesapeake Forests, which was managed by MD Forest Service. A few interpretive signs were added to the trail and some trees were identified with tree ID tags throughout the trail. However, there were no signs on the trail that told the story of Tom Tyler and why the trail came to be named after him. Additionally, some of the trails on the tract became blocked with fallen trees and overgrown with greenbrier and mountain laurel.
I came to know about the trail through a class on the environmental history of the Nanticoke taught by Dr. Michael Lewis at Salisbury University. I took the job with the Chesapeake Conservation Corps at the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance and learned that Tom Tyler was involved with the NWA in the early 90s when it was just starting out. I decided that I would apply for a Chesapeake Bay Trust CCC minigrant funding to pay for new signs to tell the story of Tom Tyler and to inform visitors of what to look for on the trail, including the stand of Atlantic White Cedars. I also applied for the “all hands on deck” and was one of 3 projects selected.
26 CCC Volunteers attended the cleanup and helped with removing debris from the path. Folks from the MD Forest Service worked to help remove large logs and trees by cutting them with chainsaws. The Forest Service also provided building materials to build a small bridge over a creek that cuts across a trail. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation pledged a small crew to help with the cleanup as well. After the cleanup, there was a rededication ceremony where folks who knew Tom Tyler were invited as well as local politicians. Larry Walton, former coworker of Tom Tyler talked about Tom, the trail, and the new signs purchased by CBT grant money were revealed and mounted. The project date is set for June 14th at 9am.
This project aimed to improve and promote a place for people to experience what the Nanticoke Watershed has to offer. Visitors to the improved trail will have better access to a beautiful trail that exhibits fine specimens of rare Atlantic White Cedars. Finally, the new signs will tell the story of Tom Tyler and how he worked to find common ground with environmentalists and do some good for the Nanticoke watershed.