LA PLATA, MD (October 17, 2002) - The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Maryland Environmental Service (MES) are combining their resources and the talents of 200 Maryland volunteers to build a scrap tire playground at Smallwood State Park in Charles County starting today. Construction of the playground began this morning (Thursday, October 17) and is expected to be fully complete by the end of the day on Saturday, October 19. The media is invited to tour the project when it nears completion around 2 p.m. Saturday, but workday interviews can also be arranged.

This unique playground will use whole scrap tires in the construction of climbing equipment, swings, obstacle courses, and wheelchair accessible play areas. Mats made from recycled scrap tires will be used as accessible safety surface material under some play structures. In addition, TREX (recycled plastic lumber) and other recycled plastic pieces will be used in the construction of the play apparatus.

This is one of many recycling projects that MDE’s scrap tire program oversees. Funding for tire recycling projects is through the Maryland Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund. This fund is generated from the collection of 40cents for every new tire sold in Maryland.

Scrap tires are an environmental danger because of their potential fire hazard. Once ignited tires can be hard to extinguish and emit noxious smoke . Tires are also a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus and other diseases. Abandoned tires also act as shelter for snakes and other pests like rodents and ticks. And illegally dumped tires cost private property owners and taxpayers thousands of dollars annually to dispose of them properly.

Smallwood State Park is located near Mattawoman Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, just off MD Route 224 in Rison, west of La Plata.