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Maryland DNR dedicates Baltimore County trail area to local conservationist

BALTIMORE, MD—The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has dedicated a portion of the Gunpowder North Trail in memory of Jim Gracie, trout fisherman and stream restoration advocate who died in 2020. A ceremony at Gunpowder Falls State Park was attended by his wife, Jane Gracie, numerous current and former state officials, and others in the fishing and conservation communities.

A plaque on the trail reads a list of Gracie’s accomplishments: “An avid conservationist and leader of the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Jim was instrumental in working together with the Department of Natural Resources to negotiate an agreement with the City of Baltimore establishing a minimum flow of cold water from the Prettyboy Reservoir, thereby securing the healthy and ideal habitat necessary for the proliferation of wild trout, and establishing the Gunpowder River as a world-renowned Blue-Ribbon trout stream.”

Gracie served as a long-time member of DNR Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission, including two terms as chair. In 1979, Gracie proposed a program to create urban trout fishing opportunities through “put and take trout stocking” into suitable urban waters. His advocacy led to DNR adopting a cold water fisheries management policy in the 1980s.

“Jim’s efforts contributed to transforming the Gunpowder River into one of the top trout streams in the United States,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “This trail is a fitting tribute to Jim for his extraordinary accomplishments in protection of our state streams, wetlands and coldwater fisheries. It was truly an honor to work with him during my time in the Maryland General Assembly and as secretary of DNR as he raised awareness of the importance of water quality in our Maryland streams.”

In 1985, Gracie left his successful career in the chemical industry to found Brightwater Inc., a local consulting firm dedicated to improving stream and water quality. He pioneered the natural channel design approach in Maryland, bringing national experts together with local agencies to design and construct the first stream restoration project in Maryland, Quail Creek.

The Jim Gracie Trail is located on the north side of the river and will extend east from Masemore Road to York Road. This trail compliments the Gunpowder South Trail, which was dedicated to the late fly fisherman Lefty Kreh in 2012, on the opposite side of the river.

Gracie was previously honored with the Maryland Water Monitoring Council Carl S. Weber Award in 2019, and was presented a DNR Certificate of Appreciation that same year.

Photos by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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