In the 1960’s and 1970’s, a 37-acre site near the rural area of Woodlawn in Cecil County, Maryland, was used as a county-owned landfill where local residents, farmers, and industries dumped their waste. In the 1980’s, groundwater contamination was detected beneath the landfill, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the site the widely recognized label as a “Superfund” site. Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. assumed responsibility for the site’s remediation and worked closely with EPA and Maryland state agencies to devise a clean-up plan. Bridgestone acquired an additional 58 acres of land adjacent to the original 37-acre landfill site in order to monitor groundwater.
In the mid-1990’s, something unexpected was discovered…the site was actually getting cleaner on its own. Naturally occurring bacteria were breaking down the contaminants – a process known as natural attenuation. This unexpected event opened the door for innovative, ecological restoration methods to be put into practice at Woodlawn. Soon, Bridgestone partnered with the Wildlife Habitat Council and the EPA revised their 1993 Record of Decision to allow for these pioneering techniques.
As a part of their new management approach, Bridgestone and WHC began to work with local community partners to implement a wildlife habitat enhancement program that included planting native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees on and around the landfill, installing nest boxes for eastern bluebirds, American kestrels, and eastern screech owls, and controlling invasive nonnative plant species.
Since 1997, WHC, Bridgestone and several Cecil County residents and organizations have made significant efforts in restoring the Woodlawn site to viable wildlife habitat. In 2001, local teens were involved in an official naming contest for New Beginnings. The contest signified the transition of the site from former landfill to natural area and with it, New Beginnings – The Woodlawn Wildlife Area was born.
Download the historical timeline of events at New Beginnings.