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Native Plant Profile: Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum spp.)

Photo of clustered mountain mint

Clustered Mountain Mint by Doug McGrady CC by 2.0

I first learned about mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.) several years ago, as a Penn State Extension study found it to be one of the top pollinator plants in their common gardens. Out of the 86 native plant species and cultivars tested, clustered mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) ranked number one for the diversity of pollinators that visited. I had to try it out for myself, and it hasn’t disappointed. Read more…

Native Animal Profile: Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Photo of eastern ratsnake

Adult Eastern Ratsnake by Richard Orr

At one time, I was deathly afraid of snakes, often screeching and running through the forest whenever I encountered a scaly friend. In college, my desire to be a field biologist, coupled with exposure to and knowledge of snakes, helped soften my feelings for them. Over the years, one snake species I have grown particularly fond of is the eastern ratsnake. Read more…

Lawn Alternatives

Photo of lawn with trees

Upland oaks and poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), parasol sedge (Carex umbellata), lichens, mosses and diminutive wildflowers in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by R.H. Simmons.

For many years, the American lawn has been viewed as a status symbol. Traditional lawns – a single cool season grass species like zoysia or fescue or bermuda, completely covering a yard space and maintained at three inches or shorter – are unfortunately often ecological wastelands that require excess water, nutrients, pesticides and maintenance. Traditional lawns also support few wildlife species. To help local wildlife, consider replacing non-native grass lawns with native alternatives. By selecting native plants suited for your site, you can reduce the time and supplies needed to maintain turf grass and can provide habitat for wildlife in the process. Read more…

Northern Snakeheads Caught in Conowingo Dam Fish Lift

Invasive Species Stopped at Dam But Spiked in Numbers

Photo of Conowingo DamA partnership overseeing fish passage at Conowingo Dam reports that 81 northern snakeheads were caught in the dam’s fish lift this spring, a dramatic increase after only one snakehead was found there the past two years. While all known snakeheads were stopped and dispatched before reaching the dam’s reservoir, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and its partners warn of a possible northern expansion by the aggressively invasive species into the Susquehanna River.

Two fish lifts were installed on the east and west sides of the Conowingo Dam decades ago to allow passage of migratory fish such as American shad and river herring. The fish lifts are critical for migratory species restoration and a requirement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

These fish lifts operate during the spring migration, which is also when snakeheads are known to travel longer distances in the watershed. All snakeheads captured this year were in the western side of the dam. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – June 12

Photo of a man and his son hauling in a big catch

Photo by Keith Lockwood

This is a special weekend for sons and daughters to celebrate their love for the fathers – or father figures in their lives — who help them to appreciate the gifts of the outdoors. No doubt many will take out the gear this weekend and share that special time together that fishing provides. Happy Father’s Day!

Read more…

Loaner Tackle Program Available at Rocky Gap State Park

Western Maryland Fishing Destination Offers Free Use of Gear

Photo of girls fishing from pier at Lake Habeeb, Rocky Gap State ParkThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources is expanding its popular loaner tackle program to Rocky Gap State Park, offering park patrons free use of fishing gear and tackle. Eight youth-sized fishing rods have been refurbished and several tackle boxes have been donated to help promote youth fishing at the popular Allegany County park.

Rocky Gap is home to Lake Habeeb, one of Western Maryland’s most fishing-friendly destinations. The 243-acre lake is routinely stocked with trout and has sustaining populations of catfish, panfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Lake Habeeb also has a public boat ramp, and canoe and kayak rentals are available during the summer months.
Read more…

Maryland Waterway Improvement Fund Awards $13.5 Million

Projects Funded Statewide for Better Boating Access, Navigation, and Safety

Photo of renovated boat ramp in Somerset CountyThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources is providing $13.5 million in Waterway Improvement Fund grants in Fiscal Year 2020 to enhance and improve public boating access, facilities, and navigation throughout the state.

This funding will go toward 58 projects in 16 counties, including grants for statewide projects and emergency needs such as ice-breaking. Projects include new public boating access, amenities, and facilities; dredging of navigable waterways; emergency vessels and equipment for local first responders; and other important infrastructure and initiatives.

“Maryland is committed to expanding boating opportunities so that our citizens and visitors can appreciate all that our waterways have to offer,” Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “These grants will enhance safety, improve access, and maximize enjoyment for all boaters.” Read more…

Maryland Conservation Corps Recruiting for September Class

Stewardship and Real-World Job Training for Young Adults

Photo of Maryland Conservation Corps crew repairing a cabin roof at a state park.The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is now recruiting members for the Maryland Conservation Corps, an award-winning AmeriCorps program that engages young adults aged 17-25 in extensive conservation, environmental, and natural resources management projects across the state.

The department seeks to hire 35 full-time members who will work on seven teams for an 11-month period, beginning in late September 2019.
Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – June 5

The look on Dexter Webster’s face says it all after a day trout fishing with his grandfather.

Photo of boy with several trout he caught

There is a special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren, and some children are lucky enough to have a grandpa or grandma to take them fishing. Lothar Weber recently took his 5 year old grandson Dexter trout fishing near Little Falls. Grandpa brought his fly fishing outfit, Dexter dug up his mom’s garden to collect some worms for bait. The results of their trout fishing trip together was described as: Dexter 5, trout and Grandpa 0.

Two more license-free fishing days are scheduled this year on June 8 and July 4. These are perfect opportunities to get someone started on their own fishing adventures!

Read more…

Marine Wildlife Return to Maryland’s Waters

Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles Should be Reported

Photo of whale stranded on beachMarine wildlife — dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, whales, and others –are making their seasonal return to both the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, as well as the coastal bays. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds anyone who has seen either a marine mammal or sea turtle in Maryland waters to report it to the state Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding program at 1-800-628-9944. Read more…

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AccessDNR June 2019

The June 2019 edition of a monthly video newsletter hosted by Gregg Bortz.