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Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. is a volunteer non-profit group, formed in 1965, whose mission is to educate the public about the unique natural and historical qualities of the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area (NEA) in Owings Mills Maryland, and to conserve and restore its rare and endangered ecosystem for future generations.
? ? Soldiers Delight is the largest remaining serpentine ? barrens? ecosystem in the eastern United States. It is a rare and endangered oak savanna ecosystem, and while it once covered upwards of 150,000 acres in Maryland at the time of European settlement, less than 1000 acres of it remain today in Soldiers Delight.
? ? As a result of its unusual geology and fire history, Soldiers Delight is the most significant biodiversity site on Maryland's state lands: it provides habitat for more than 39 rare plant and animal species, including several plants and butterflies that occur nowhere else in Maryland. It was also the nation? s first source of chromite ore, starting in 1825.
? ? This rare ecosystem is located 7 miles NW of Baltimore, and offers trails, exhibits, and educational programs that highlight its unique features and history.? ? Restoration of Soldiers Delight began in 1989 and, to date more than 20,000 hours of volunteer labor have been logged in support. The main goal of the restoration program is to remove all non-native species: especially the Virginia pine and greenbrier that have spread over the outcrop within the last 70 years and choked out the native oak savanna. Volunteers help in clearing and creating firebreaks in support of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR)'s prescribed burning program which is conducted each fall and spring. These burns help remove non-native invasive species and encourage the growth of the native plants which are adapted to fire.
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