The history of the Robinson Foundation, the Robinson Nature Center, and the Friends of the Robinson Nature Center really begins with the story of the Middle Patuxent River. The river runs its entire course in Howard County, from its headwaters at a spring in the northern part of the county to its merger with the Little Patuxent River in the southern section. Most of the river runs through private property and part of it is protected in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA).
Along its 23.9 mile course, the Middle Patuxent River traverses farms, suburban developments, and the city of Columbia on its way to the historic town of Savage.This little river has a long history and a strong influence on the environment and the economy of Howard County. It is one of the rivers that make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a huge, irregular water system that stretches from upstate New York to the Bay, running across parts of six states and the District of Columbia.