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April 29, 2014

Newtowne Neck State Park Reopens to the Public

by kking

newtowne_beachThe Maryland Park Service has reopened Newtowne Neck State Park to the public, following a closure of more than two years, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted comprehensive research into the source of military ordnance found at the park in early 2012. The Corps determined that the ordnance was inert test artillery rounds containing no explosive material, and therefore was not a danger to the visiting public.

“We are excited that Newtowne Neck State Park has reopened so visitors can once again enjoy the scenic, natural beauty of this Southern Maryland gem on the Potomac River,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina.

The park includes 776 acres of woodlands, wetlands and agricultural fields, and more than 7 miles of Potomac River shoreline in St. Mary’s County. Surrounded by BretonBay, St. Clements Bay and the Potomac River, recreational opportunities at the undeveloped park include walking along unspoiled beaches, farm roads and several woodland trails, as well as shoreline fishing, paddling, birdwatching, and other passive activities.

The State of Maryland acquired the Newtowne Neck peninsula in 2009 to preserve the area’s rich natural, cultural and historical heritage. In January of 2012, the property’s rich history became even more apparent with the discovery of several items of World War II-era military ordnance within the park. 

The discovery led to the closure of the park and an exhaustive study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the nature and extent of prior military use of the area. Researchers determined that the property was used by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and, later, the United States Navy, for testing of inert test artillery rounds being developed during World War II.

Despite the findings that only inert test artillery rounds were deployed at the State Park, the Maryland Park Service urges all visitors to exercise caution if a suspicious object is found. Information is posted throughout the park, which instructs visitors to follow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “3Rs of Explosives Safety” – Recognize, Retreat, and Report suspicious objects to authorities.

With the reopening of the park to the public, the Maryland Park Service has initiated a Master Planning process for this new State Park. A citizen advisory committee has been formed and the first public meeting is expected to be held this summer.

 

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