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DNR to Gather Public Input on Possible Designation of Additional Wildlands


The Youghiogheny River Scenic Corridor is a candidate for Wildland designation in Garrett County

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public input on the proposed creation of 10 new Wildlands and the expansion of 17 existing Wildlands (click here for the map). Wildlands are State-owned natural areas preserved for their wilderness character or sensitive natural resources. Starting in late October, the department will be holding public meetings in nine counties across the State to collect comments on designating additional Wildlands.

Wildlands benefit the economy of local communities by attracting birdwatchers, photographers, backpackers and others who enjoy nature. Many Wildlands serve as home to rare and endangered species such as hellbenders and purple-fringed orchids. Other recreational pursuits like hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and horseback riding, as well as research, are all permitted. Currently 29 areas of State-owned land in 15 counties are designated as Wildlands, totaling 43,779 acres, listed here.

DNR has acquired new properties which meet State Wildlands Preservation System criteria since the last designations 11 years ago. Many of the candidate regions contain rare or threatened plants and animals, and other environmentally sensitive characteristics. The department identified additional areas upon completing an Inventory of Old Growth Forests, and mapping high conservation forests and environmentally sensitive areas, on DNR-managed lands.

DNR is currently seeking input on 27 areas of State land that may be suitable for Wildland designation. Information and maps showing the location of the areas are available at Click here for a detailed listing of the candidate areas grouped by county.

Citizens may comment in one of three ways─ at any of the public meetings listed below, by email to, or by mail to: Wildlands Comments; Attn: Rich Norling; Maryland Department of Natural Resources; 580 Taylor Ave., C4; Annapolis, MD 21401. The comment deadline is December 9, 2013.

The public meetings will focus on the county in which proposed new or expanded Wildlands are located, but representatives will accept comments regarding any aspect of the proposed designations. They are as follows:

Frederick County: Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m.
Thurmont Regional Library
76 East Moser Road, Thurmont, 21788
The library does not promote or endorse the views of program sponsors or presenters
Calvert County: Tuesday, October 29 at 6 p.m.
Prince Frederick Library
850 Costley Way, Prince Frederick, 20678    
Worcester County: Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m.
Shad Landing State Park, Camp Store Dining Area
3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill, 21863
Enter the Park and drive straight back on the main entrance road until it ends and then turn right and follow the signs to the Camp Store, which is located at the boat launch area on the Pocomoke River. Map of park.
Montgomery County: Wednesday, October 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Seneca Creek State Park, Visitor Center
11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 20878
Charles County: Monday, November 4 at 6 p.m.
College of Southern Maryland, Center for Business & Industry, Room 104
8730 Mitchell Road, LaPlata, 20646
Garrett County: Wednesday, November 6 at 6 p.m.
Deep Creek Lake State Park, Discovery Center Meeting Room
898 State Park Road, Swanton, 21561
Somerset County: Wednesday, November 6 at 6 p.m.
Janes Island State Park, Nature Center
26280 Alfred J. Lawson Drive, Crisfield, 21817
Allegany County: Thursday, November 7 at 6 p.m.
Allegany College, Continuing Education Building, Room CE8
12401 Willowbrook Road, Cumberland 21502
Baltimore County: Thursday, November 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, Conference Room
5100 Deer Park Road, Owings Mills, 21117

  • Paul Durham

    Consider tasking key DNR staff to interpret the benefits of wildlands to the state and to its people, develop an ongoing, focused and well crafted interpretive and outreach plan.

  • alice eastman

    This is an enormous boost towards the preservation of some of Maryland’s most biologically diverese ecosystems as well as the protection of threatened and endangered species.

    It is an ambitious plan and will need all the support it can get, especially in Western Maryland.

  • George

    Kudos to DNR for this excellent proposal. I visited two of the proposed units earlier this week and will support their designation when I submit comments.

  • Chris

    I have a friend who just attended the meetind i have to say the politics in thid is outrageous. No concept of stewardship of what God entitled us as human beings to take care of His creations. No instead we are worried about what our tax dollars are poured into. Like as if that would matter in this failing economy. And mining, logging and oil? Give me a break! Find alternate sources of energy and resources! Republicans my butt! More like closet democrats. Disgusting.

  • David

    This is a example of the control the state wants over how we use public land. I PERSONALLY feel there is enough protected land in our state for your form of recreation. What about us that live in these areas and actually want to use this land. They are already systematically taking any form of OHV trail usage away from us. Not to mention the monetary value the economy is losing by people going to other states for trail riding. When, where does it stop!!! Stand up against this travesty.

    • chris

      Get a grip. After the proposed expansion Wildlands would comprise just over 7 thousandths of one percent of Maryland’s area. I think there is room for a little diversity in Maryland’s land and this small pittance of land allowed to remain natural would contribute to that diversity. There’s still lots of land for other uses.

  • I attended a meeting on this subject in our town and asked what data DNR had that supported this initiative did not adversely effect those adjacent towns because access by people to those lands wre minimized. There have been no studies to support this relevant to economic impact nor have there been studies that the wildland designation directly increased any targeted species.

    Furthermore the designation historicaly leads to expansions every few years. This program needs to collect and report data to support their initiative before making assumptions.

  • Ken

    While I am in favor of protecting lands against development, I am firmly against the Wildlands designation because it forbids mountain bike use, despite allowing equestrian use. Mountain biking is an affordable way for average residents to access and experience the beauty of the great outdoors. Studies have demonstrated that mountain bikes have little impact on sustainable trails, and local mountain biking organizations have proven track records of working with the parks and landowners in developing and maintaing sustainable trail systems. Opening access to bikes will bring money to the local economies (restaurants, hotels), and provides opportunities to improve public health. Mountain bikes should be allowed in Wildlands.

  • Jon Arnold

    It would help the public understand if the DNR could please explain how designating these areas as Wildlands will further protect them. After studying the map and reading the proposal above, the DNR already owns all of this land. If these lands are not designated as Wildlands, what could happen to them? It would also help to explain to the public what will not be allowed to take place in these areas if they are designated in such a way. As a mountain biker who volunteers time working on trails I am not in favor of designating additional land as Wildlands, unless mountain bikes are allowed in the Wildlands.

  • joe swope

    please accept all wildlands proposals and increase more acres into the wildland system. the state of maryland needs to do even more for wilderness protection-especially in large connecting lands,including those of adjoining land-water and air routes for wildlife species. also , would like to see even more land protected in the sideling hill wildlands of washington and alleghany counties.

    thank you

  • Ian Cheek

    Wildland preservation is critical in protecting wildlife habitat from development and natural areas for future generations

  • Sandra Petersen

    Please accept and act on this proposal. Having been born and raised in Maryland, protecting and expanding a dwindling wild lands is important for the human and economic well being and future of the state.

  • Chris

    I don’t really understand the whole Wildlands designation. Aren’t these properties, just by being owned by DNR, in essence already preserved? If the same basic recreational activities will be allowed then why the additional designation? I don’t get it. Is there some additional benefit to these already preserved lands that I’m just not seeing?

  • The Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group (BCWWG) would like to register its full support for the proposed creation of 10 new Wildlands and expansion of 17 existing Wildlands by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    We are a citizens group dedicated to the preservation and ecological health of the Beaverdam Creek Watershed, which is located in and around Greenbelt, Maryland. As such, we feel that the designation of additional Wildlands will strengthen the protection of watersheds throughout the state and will benefit the Chesapeake Bay as well.

    In addition, we believe the proposal will allow citizens to enjoy nature in its most pristine form and further raise environmental awareness in Maryland as well as benefit local economies nearby.
    We congratulate DNR for its efforts to protect our state’s land, habitat and resources.

    Mark Christal, President
    Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group

  • Mark Diehl

    Designating additional wildland acreage on public lands (especially expanding upon existing wildlands) is of paramount importance in combatting the number one enemy of biodiversity conservation: FRAGMENTATION. Maryland is a small place, and relatively densely populated. Private (and public) lands continue to be carved up. We don’t get many chances to protect. Do the right thing … expand our public lands as wildlands to the maximum possible extent.