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Natural Resources News

Maryland Natural Resources Police Graduates Class of 2023

Photo of uniformed officers seated

The newest members of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, graduates of the 64th Basic Recruit Class. Photo by Fran Gower, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police (NRP) welcomed 14 new officers following graduation of its 64th Basic Recruit Class on November 30. 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz addressed the 14 new officers at their graduation ceremony at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel.

“Congratulations to the hard-working men and women who have diligently trained to reach this point,” Secretary Kurtz said. “As Natural Resources Police Officers, they are now officially part of the team that ensures the wildlife, fish, and the public lands we enjoy are conserved and protected for generations to come.” Read more…

Maryland’s Deer Firearm Season Opens with 7% Increase in Harvest

Cooler weather prevails in opening weekend of two-week hunt 

Photo of deer at a watering hole in the marsh

Sika deer in the marsh, photo by Earl Blansfield, submitted to Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

Hunters reported harvesting 10,864 deer  on the opening weekend of the 2023 Maryland firearm season from Nov. 25-26, according to data collected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The overall deer harvest was 7% higher than last year’s official opening weekend harvest of 10,159 deer. 

The harvest total included 5,617 antlered and 4,880 antlerless white-tailed deer, and 193 antlered and 174 antlerless sika deer. The two-week deer firearm season runs through Dec. 9. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – November 29

 Photo of woman on a boat holding a fish

Black sea bass, photo by Monty Hawkins.

The weather is getting colder but if you bundle up there is plenty of good fishing to be had throughout Maryland. One example is fishing offshore of Ocean City, where anglers are catching limits of hefty black sea bass.

In response to five years of below average spawning success for striped bass, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is submitting emergency regulations to help bolster the species’ spawning population. This includes extending closure dates during the 2024 season. These changes, if formally approved, will close the May trophy season. While recent research has suggested that environmental factors, such as warm winters and low water flows, are significant factors influencing spawning success, DNR scientists and fishery managers believe it is critical to take additional measures to reduce fishing mortality associated with harvest along with fish that die after being caught and released. We all share the goal of making sure striped bass fishing is available for future generations of Marylanders.

Read more…

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Presents Emergency Regulations to Increase Protections for Maryland’s Striped Bass Spawning Population

Photo of boat on a bay, in silhouette

DNR biologists survey and tag striped bass in the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay as part of the annual spring survey of the spawning population. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is submitting striped bass emergency regulations this week in an effort to bolster the species’ spawning population. These Maryland-specific actions will complement additional actions that will be implemented coastwide in 2024 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  Read more…

Chesapeake Bay 2023 Final Hypoxia Report

This summer’s dissolved oxygen levels in the Chesapeake Bay were much better than previous years

Graph of hypoxic water volumes in the Chesapeake Bay from May through October 2023, compared to past yearsWater monitoring data collected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Old Dominion University show that dissolved oxygen conditions in the Chesapeake Bay mainstem of Maryland and Virginia were much better than average for May-October 2023.

The hypoxic water volume — waters with less than 2 milligrams per liter (mg/l) oxygen — averaged 0.52 cubic miles during May-October 2023, compared to the historical average (1985-2022) of 0.97 cubic miles. This year had the lowest average hypoxic volume since monitoring began 39 years ago. Read more…

Maryland Forest Service Wraps Up Successful Seed Collection

Thousands of pounds of seeds will help grow next generation of Maryland trees

Photo of several girls with a container of acorns on a table

Frederick County Girl Scout Troop 37025 displaying the chestnut oak acorns they collected. Photo by Katie Hager.

The Maryland Forest Service and the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery have completed a successful seed collection to grow the next generation of native trees and shrubs in the state. 

The collection brought in thousands of pounds of seeds, berries and nuts, from white oak to witch hazel, for planting in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ state nursery in Preston, Caroline County. The nursery grows those seeds into bare-root tree seedlings, which are then used in tree plantings across the state.

With new staff hired under Maryland’s 5 Million Trees Initiative and an effective outreach campaign, the Forest Service was able to ramp up this year’s effort to support the state nursery. The campaign inspired a considerable public response, and community volunteers were critical to the success of the project.

Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – November 22

Photo of man in a boat holding a fish

Herb Floyd took a break from fishing for striped bass and enjoyed some great chain pickerel action. Photo courtesy of Herb Floyd

The Thanksgiving holiday gives us all a chance to reflect on all the things we are grateful to have. Family and friends always top the list, and for many of us they are followed by the opportunities we have to enjoy the outdoors.  

Read more…

FishMaryland Master Angler Award Presented to Jason Paugh of Garrett County

Photo of man holding a fish, in a boat on a lake

FishMaryland Master Angler Jason Paugh with a largemouth bass. Photo courtesy of Jason Paugh

Jason Paugh, of Red House, this month became the fourth Master Angler awarded under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ FishMaryland program. The highest award in the program recognizes the skill and determination required to catch ten trophy-size fish species in Maryland that all meet the minimum award sizes. 

Paugh reached this milestone award by catching a largemouth bass (21.25 inches), smallmouth bass (20 inches), crappie (16.75 inches), northern pike (47.25 inches), chain pickerel (25.25 inches), rock bass (10.75 inches), yellow perch (14.25 inches), carp (38 inches), bluegill (11 inches), and wild brook trout (12.25 inches).  Read more…

Maryland’s ‘Gift of Trees’ Provides a Legacy of Stewardship

Photo of several helping plant trees

Maryland Forest Service staff and community volunteers plant trees purchased through the Gift of Trees program in a Baltimore City park this fall. Photo by Gregg Bortz, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering holiday shoppers a different type of gift this year–one that can be in honor of a loved one, to benefit future generations, and improve the environment.

The Gift of Trees is a program where Marylanders purchase native trees — either a single tree or a grove of 10 trees—for planting in honor of a celebration, commemoration, or observation.

The department will issue and mail a Gift of Trees certificate, which can be framed, within a week or two of an order. All trees will be planted in the next growing season, either spring or fall, to promote optimal growth and survival. Orders must be placed by Dec. 17 to ensure certificate delivery in time for Christmas. Read more…

Maryland’s Deer Firearms Hunting Opens Nov. 25

Popular season helps significantly to manage the deer population 

Photo of large deer in a field

Photo by Steve Edwards, submitted to Maryland DNR photo contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced that the two-week firearms hunting season for sika and white-tailed deer opens Saturday, Nov. 25 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 9. 

The two-week season includes Sunday hunting in all but three counties, affording hunters more weekend opportunities to hunt and contribute to managing Maryland’s deer population. Read more…

Fall Foliage Report: November 16

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” – George Burns

A few remaining orange and russet leaves hold on tightly during fall’s final days at the King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park. Photo by Administrative Specialist David Gigliotti.

Fall foliage in Maryland this year was unpredictable yet still delighted with breathtaking fall color, even if it was short-lived in some areas of the state. We began the season discussing possible leaf outcomes from this summer’s drought, and Marylanders in some regions certainly saw their share of premature leaf drop and subdued fall hues. The pace of leaf changes picked up markedly toward season’s end, with some of our Western Maryland foresters seeing changes in as little as 48 hours. As fall foliage draws to a close, our state foresters and park rangers – many of whom were first-time contributors to this report – summarize the season from their unique viewpoint in each region and show current foliage conditions across the state. For those of us who love (or hate) the winter, we’re including our predictions for the coldest months of the year as well. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – November 15

Photo of woman holding a fish

Sara LaMonica is all smiles with this large crappie she caught at Prettyboy Reservoir recently. Photo courtesy of Sara LaMonica

The weather is a bit chilly, but the fishing remains good. Anglers can be seen switching their footwear from sneakers to waterproof and insulated boots and warmer outdoor clothes. 

Read more…

One Year In, DNR Scientists Monitor a More Natural Way to Protect a Shoreline

Living shoreline project at Franklin Point State Park aims to control erosion and promote marsh habitat

Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff count off saltmarsh hay stalks in a transect at the Franklin Point State Park living shoreline.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff count off saltmarsh hay stalks in a quadrat at the Franklin Point State Park living shoreline. Photo by Joe Zimmermann.

The plot seemed to have vanished. Though the GPS indicated the site was within feet, there was no sign of it, and the team worried they had mistaken it for another area already collected, one long march through the tall reeds ago.

Then, Sarah Hilderbrand, a senior restoration specialist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, yelled out, “I see it!”—and there it was, a thin white PVC pipe nestled in the mess of reeds, barely noticeable.

The team, made up of DNR Chesapeake and Coastal Service staff, got to work. They laid down a white quadrat frame and started counting off the species of plants they saw there, the density of vegetation, the height of stalks, the sediment type and the elevation.

They were part of a project to actively monitor the living shoreline built at Franklin Point State Park, which sits along the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. This is one of the first projects of its kind to collect before-and-after data on how the anti-erosion efforts are protecting the landscape while providing a healthy marsh habitat. It was built through a partnership with Arundel Rivers Federation, an Anne Arundel County environmental organization. Read more…

Maryland DNR Announces 2024-2025 Migratory Game Bird Stamp Design Contest Winner

Towson Artist Wins 50th and Final Design Contest

Illustration of two ducks in flight above a marsh

Jim Taylor’s illustration, “May They Always Fly,” won the 50th Annual Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp Design Contest. Image courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce that Jim Taylor of Towson won the 50th Annual Migratory Game Bird Stamp Design Contest. Taylor is now one of two six-time winners. Read more…

New DNR Project Raises Freshwater Mussels in a Mobile Lab

The Mobile Mussel Propagation Trailer cultivates mussels to restore populations in the Susquehanna River basin

Fishtanks in the mobile lab

Lena Sawyers, a natural resources technician, points out the trailer’s fish setup of fish tanks to DNR Deputy Secretary David Goshorn. Photo by Joe Zimmermann, Maryland DNR.

A new Maryland Department of Natural Resources project is aiming to raise imperiled freshwater mussels and restore them to waters of the Susquehanna River basin—all from the back of a trailer.

DNR’s Mobile Mussel Propagation Trailer began operations this October. It’s currently parked in Susquehanna State Park and is raising juvenile mussels from the Susquehanna River, where the mollusks play an important role in filtering water, just as oysters do in saltwater. Read more…

Where Native Plants and Food Gardening Meet

by Sarah Witcher

“The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” ~ Michael Pollan

For gardeners with limited real estate, the decision between food gardening and using native plants can be tricky. Many of us got into gardening thanks to the immense satisfaction of planting and nurturing something we can put on our tables. There is nothing quite like the feeling of self-sufficiency and connection to the land brought by food gardening. I’ll never forget reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – a book by Barbara Kingsolver, describing her year-long experiment with growing and farming a majority of the food her family required on just one acre of land. That said, so many popular food plants are not native to Maryland – like carrots, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cucumber, apples, watermelon, and asparagus, for example. So, if you like planting natives to support wildlife AND eating the fruits of your gardening labor, what’s a Maryland gardener to do? The answer: plant native food crops!

The Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa)

The list of edible native plants is lengthy and full of numerous species that have been all but forgotten. Generations of indigenous Americans farmed, foraged, and nurtured plants that wildlife also needed. Much of the generational knowledge of how to collect and prepare native plants has been buried – but is being rediscovered. Interested in native food gardening? Here are a few species to get you started, including a low-grower, a shrub, and a tree: Read more…

Native Animal Profile: North American Porcupine

Photo of porcupine in snow

Photo by Nathaniel Peck, submitted to the 2023 Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

The subject of this native animal could come right out of a horror movie! It only comes out at night; it has barbed, dagger-like spikes all over its body; its huge, orangey-red front teeth are sharp enough to chisel into wood; and its courtship shrieks and groans are truly the stuff of nightmares. The North American porcupine is our second-largest rodent (after beavers), weighing in at as much as 20-35 pounds in older individuals. Read more…

Supporting Bats With Gardening

Photo of a bat

Little Brown Bat by DNR Biologist Megan Zagorski.

Many of us have put a lot of time and energy into gardening for pollinators – but have you considered gardening for bats?

An often underappreciated and misunderstood group, bats in Maryland are important to the balance of our local ecosystems. Our 10 native species consume a vast quantity of insects, including many agricultural pests that plague food crops. Some studies estimate the services bats provide to farmers are worth more than $3.7 billion per year in the United States. Just one little brown bat, for example, can easily catch 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour, providing an undeniably immense value to our communities. Besides eating bugs, bats also provide support for other species through their guano, a valuable natural fertilizer.  Read more…

Invasive Plants in Your ‘Backyard’

Guest Author: Joel Cockerham, Natural Resources Technician

Hello Habichatters! File this under “notes from the field,” in which we give you a peek into the daily challenges and triumphs of managing a rare ecosystem. And we’ll share how you can help us manage the invasive species in our backyard with the choices you make for your backyard.

Photo of plants on a forest floor

A landscape of invasive plants at Soldier’s Delight with Wavyleaf basketgrass carpeting the forest floor, two autumn olive bushes in the foreground. Maryland DNR photo

Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills is home to a rare ecosystem, the serpentine barrens. Also called an oak savanna, this tall grassland (and the surrounding forests) supports more than 30 rare plant and animal species! Several thousand years ago, this ecosystem formed in the presence of fire, started either by lightning strikes or by the indigenous people. Species that survive this type of disturbance are called fire-tolerant. One of the most interesting and challenging tasks we perform at Soldier’s Delight is to mimic these historic fires by conducting prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns. Fire serves two purposes: it removes any buildup of organic material that would change the unique soil composition; and it knocks back any invading non-native, fire-intolerant plant species. Read more…

Secretary’s Message – November 2023

Maryland takes the lead on Chesapeake Bay restoration

Photo of man looking at an artificial wetland island in a city

Sec. Kurtz observes an experimental floating wetland at the National Aquarium in Baltimore Harbor, which is being expanded to demonstrate the water quality and habitat benefits of wetlands. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

It’s time for Maryland to re-assert itself as an innovator and leader on strategies to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

In October, Governor Wes Moore was unanimously elected to serve as chair of the bipartisan, multi-state Chesapeake Executive Council, the primary policy and leadership body of the formal Chesapeake Bay Partnership’s effort to restore the Bay. That month, I was also appointed to chair the Council’s Principal Staff Committee, which sets the agenda and briefs the Council.

The Council consists of governors from the Chesapeake Bay states, the D.C. Mayor, and EPA officials. During the next year, the Council will re-evaluate Bay cleanup plans and ensure states are implementing the most effective ways to reduce agricultural and urban stormwater runoff–the great pollution challenge facing the Chesapeake. As Governor Moore has stressed, a key part of this effort will include improving our partnerships and holding each other accountable to ensure progress is happening. Read more…

Maryland Reports 2023 Early Deer Season Results

Deer hunting opportunities still abound for the rest of the year

Photo of deer in woods

Photo by Rida Allen, submitted to Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reports that hunters harvested 16,607 deer during the early portion of the 2023 archery and muzzleloader seasons. The harvest was an 18% decrease from last year’s official harvest of 20,267 deer for the same period.

The annual deer harvest fluctuates from year to year for a number of reasons, including hunter effort, weather conditions, availability of natural foods like acorns, and current population size of the herd. Less than ideal weather conditions for part of the early season and abundant acorns in many areas, which reduces deer mobility making them harder to hunt, contributed to the decline this year. Read more…

Fall Foliage Report, November 9, 2023

Fall Foliage as of 11/9/23

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

Red, orange, yellow and green leaves in Montgomery County.

Bold shades of red and copper are perfectly framed between blue skies and tranquil waters in Montgomery County. Photo by Tim Mohr.

Fall foliage season is coming to a close in Maryland and we’ve had plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies to take in some amazing views across the state. Leaf drop is significant, and our forest floors and park trails are providing colorful pathways to views otherwise unseen during the warmer months. We begin this week’s report from the south and east where visitors can still catch autumn’s best and final curtain call. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – November 8

Photo of man in a boat on a river holding a fish

Steve Kartalia holds up a beautiful smallmouth bass before releasing it back into the waters of the upper Potomac River. Photo by Bob Easton

Fall colors are at peak in much of Maryland, and the mild weather has made outdoor recreation like fishing a wonderful experience.

Read more…

Maryland Hunters Harvest 103 Black Bears for 2023 Season

Warm weather prevailed for most of the hunt, but harvest remains steady

Photo of bear in a field

Photo by Mitch Adolph, submitted to Maryland DNR 2023 Photo Contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported that hunters harvested 103 black bears during the state’s 20th annual black bear hunt held Oct. 23-28 in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties. The harvest consisted of 40 male and 63 female bears. An additional nine bears (four male and five female) were harvested between September 1 and October 31 by farmers utilizing agricultural damage permits.

Despite warm daytime temperatures and abundant natural foods in the woods – which means that bears travel less and are therefore not as easy to spot – hunters were able to harvest the same number of bears during the 2023 season as they did during the 2022 season. The daily harvest stayed consistent throughout the weeklong season and many hunters contributed their success to locating hickory or white oak stands. The 2023 harvest was slightly lower than the previous 5-year average of 111 bears. Read more…

Black Bear Hunt Aims To Maintain Maryland’s Bear Population

The top predator, once abundant and later endangered in the state, is now at a healthy level

Photo of bear in woods at night

A black bear approaches a camera trap. Photo by Nathaniel Peck.

Black bear populations have risen in Maryland in recent decades and are now at a level that state biologists consider healthy. 

To maintain a large enough black bear population that enables bears to sustainably reproduce while mitigating potential conflicts with humans, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has managed a limited bear hunt for the past 20 years.

“Black bears are the top of the food chain here in Maryland. They’re the largest omnivore,” said Jonathan Trudeau, black bear biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “They have no natural predators in the region to mitigate their population growth and keep the population in check. The only thing that does is humans.”’

Read more…

Maryland’s Junior Deer Hunt Opens November 11

Hunt offers prime time for adult hunters to pass on traditions

Photo of deer standing in a field during fall

Photo by Matthew Doged, submitted to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources encourages experienced deer hunters to take advantage of the upcoming Junior Deer Hunting Days to introduce young people to this time-honored cultural and sporting tradition. 

The Junior Deer Hunt is open on private and designated public land in all counties on November 11. The season is also open on Sunday, November 12 on private land in all counties except Baltimore, Howard, and Prince George’s. Also on November 12, junior hunters in Allegany, Cecil, Garrett, St. Mary’s, and Washington counties, may hunt on designated public lands. Read more…

Researchers Enlist Community Help in Studying Increase of Ticks in Western Maryland

Frostburg State University is working with the Department of Natural Resources to study the spread of ticks and provide more community information

Photo of scientists working in a lab

Frostburg State Students Sarah and Alex test ticks for Lyme disease as part of the “Tick Talk” program being led by Frostburg in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Photo by AJ Metcalf, Maryland DNR.

Ticks were once rare in Western Maryland, but the disease-carrying arachnids are on the rise in the region.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Frostburg State University are working together on an initiative to study the rising prevalence of ticks and Lyme disease in western Maryland. 

Rebekah Taylor, associate professor and chairwoman for the biology department at Frostburg State University, said ticks were not a concern in Western Maryland when she was growing up there. But things have changed. She started studying ticks after her son contracted Lyme disease. Read more…

Fall Foliage Report November 2, 2023

Fall Foliage as of 11/02/23

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” — Sarah Addison Allen, from the novel “First Frost”

Green, red, yellow, and orange leaves in Prince George's County

Photo by Vincent C., Prince George’s County.

Blink and you might miss it. Peak fall color that is. Some reports out of western Maryland this week describe past peak conditions, and foresters and park rangers in other regions of the state also report rapid changes, with tree canopies transforming from mostly green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red often in as little as 48 hours. A strong cold front at the beginning of the week brought a sweeping wind into the forests and mountain ranges, resulting in a colorful forest floor and a lot of nearly bare trees. Time is of the essence for those wanting to capture autumn’s glory before it’s gone.  Read more…

Natural Resources Police Toy Drive Returns for 2023 Holiday Season

Donation locations statewide to help give a ‘Boatload of Toys’ to Maryland children 

Photo of police officers with toys in front of a trailered boat in a parking lot

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police is conducting its annual “Boatload of Toys” drive at several locations. Natural Resources Police officers are collecting donations of new, unopened toys for children in need. The program is part of the national United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots initiative.

Members of NRP’s volunteer Reserve Officer program and staff will collect the toys at drop-off locations in each region of the state–southern, eastern, central, and western. New additions to the program this year include an increase in donation drop off points and a partnership with Amazon, which is offering Marylanders the opportunity to donate a toy online via a Toys for Tots Registry hosted on Amazon’s platform. Donations can be easily added to an Amazon cart, choosing the “NRP Safety Education Unit” gift registry address that is listed.  Read more…

Investigating Stream Health with the Maryland Biological Stream Survey

Department of Natural Resources scientists look for several different indicators to evaluate the overall health of Maryland streams–here’s how they do it

How can the Maryland Department of Natural Resources tell whether a stream is healthy or degraded? State scientists start by looking for critters.

Every year scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources crisscross the state with notebooks, nets, and other equipment looking for insects and other wildlife as part of the Maryland Biological Stream Survey. The scientists collect and analyze bugs, fish, and other indicator species to develop a score that can show whether a stream is biologically healthy or not.

On a crisp fall day in October, as part of DNR’s Science Week, several scientists from the stream surveying team demonstrated how the process works at a tributary stream of the Patapsco River in Ellicott City.

It starts with the benthic macroinvertebrates. These are aquatic animals such as mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, stoneflies, and crayfish. Their presence in a stream is one factor that can indicate healthy stream water quality.

DNR Biologist Jackie Sivalia demonstrates to Secretary Josh Kurtz how a D-Net is used to catch macroinvertebrates, and explains how they help her and other scientists evaluate the overall health of the stream.

Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – November 1

Photo of woman holding a fish

Amy Fradiska holds up a largemouth bass she caught and released recently. Photo courtesy Amy Fradiska

The colors of fall are all around, water temperatures are cooler, and it is a wonderful time to go fishing for a variety of freshwater, Bay, and marine fish.

Read more…

The Baltimore Ravens and Coca-Cola Teamed Up with the Department of Natural Resources and City of Baltimore to Plant and Maintain Trees at Chinquapin Run

Photo of several people and a mascot standing in park

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service staff stand with Baltimore Ravens mascot Poe in Chinquapin Park, Baltimore. Photo by Anne Gilbert, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, along with city council members and several Ravens players, cheer squad members, and community volunteer staff helped plant 30 trees and maintain dozens of others in the community of Chinquapin Park-Belvedere this week. City Council President Nick Mosby, Councilman Mark Conway, Ravens players Tyler Ott, Tyler Linderbaum, Jeremy Lucien, Tykeem Doss, and Tashawn Manning, plus members of the Ravens’ cheer squad Jessica A. and Blake E. were on hand to take part in this urban forestry stewardship effort in the streamside park.  Read more…

Tools of the Trade: Water Quality Sondes

Photo of technician deploying a device into the waterPhoto of SondeDepartment of Natural Resources scientists monitor Maryland’s waters to determine the habitat health for fish, crabs, oysters, and other aquatic organisms. Results from our monitoring programs measure the current status of waterways, tell us whether they are improving or degrading, and help to assess and guide resource management and restoration actions. Information is collected on nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment concentrations, algal blooms, and physical, biological, and chemical properties of the water. While many water samples are taken and analyzed later at a laboratory, modern instruments called water quality sondes allow for the immediate collection of some parameters. Read more…

Youth, Veteran, and Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Announced for 2023-24

Photo of geese in water with hunters and a dog in a blind on the shore

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

Maryland’s youth hunters, veterans, and military personnel will be afforded a great opportunity to experience the tradition of waterfowl hunting on two special hunt days: Nov. 4, 2023 and Feb. 3, 2024.   Read more…

Fall Foliage Report October 26, 2023

Fall Foliage as of 10/26/23

“I wish that every day was Saturday and every month was October.” 

– Charmaine J. Forde

Orange, red, yellow, and green leaves on Sword Mountain.

The treetops of Sword Mountain awaken as the sun rises in Clear Spring. Photo by Forester Aaron Cook.

With colors intensifying across the state this week, parts of Maryland are right on the cusp of peak leaf change. The mountains of western Maryland are seeing bold shades of amber, crimson and gold, while other regions of our state are reporting marked increases in autumnal hues, spreading further along the tree canopies in central, northern, and southern Maryland. This weekend’s weather promises to bring warmer than average temperatures to the region, and we’re embracing the shift – and the burst in fall color – by including some of our best locations to enjoy a walk in the woods at one of our state parks and forests.

Join us as we follow Maryland’s changing autumn landscape each week – subscribe to the Fall Foliage Report email newsletter to have it arrive in your inbox! 

Read more…

Public Input Sought on State Forest Work Plan Update

Additional silviculture operation proposed for Potomac-Garrett State Forest in FY24

Photo of trees in autumn

Potomac-Garrett State Forest, photo by Scott Campbell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on an additional silvicultural operation proposed as an inclusion to the Potomac-Garrett State Forest Annual Work Plan for fiscal year 2024. The comment period concludes November 17​, 2023.

The proposed harvest is being added to the current FY24 plan to take advantage of favorable regeneration conditions for white oak, and to permit the operation to avoid disturbance to the nearby campground during the winter months. The operation was originally proposed for the FY25 Annual Work Plan. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – October 25

Photo of man in a kayak holding a fish

Eric Packard enjoyed a day fishing for snakeheads in his kayak. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Recent chilly temperatures are causing anglers to replace their sneakers and T-shirts with rubber footwear and flannel shirts. Cooler water temperatures have fish in a very active feeding mode, which makes for great fishing.

Read more…

Maryland State Tree Nursery Now Taking Orders for Spring 2024 Planting

This year marks the return of Wye Oak clone seedlings

Photo of seedlings growing in a field

Maryland DNR photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces that its online tree seedling catalog is now open and accepting orders for spring 2024 planting from the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery.  

This year’s catalog features more than 55 species, with a few different choices from last year. Also the nursery is excited to announce the return of Wye Oak seedlings for sale for the first time since 2018. This special offering of seedlings grown from clones of Maryland’s historic Wye Oak is now available for ordering from the Department of Natural Resources online store. Read more…

Major Improvements Completed at Morgan Run’s Accessible Fishing Platform

New accessibility features make it easier for anglers with disabilities to cast a line at popular fly-fishing destination

Photo of group of people cutting a ribbon in an outdoors area

The ribbon is cut at Morgan Run’s accessible fishing platform. Photo by AJ Metcalf, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has completed significant improvements to the fly-fishing platform at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area to enhance accessibility for Maryland’s anglers with disabilities. 

After several months of work, the area is now open and accessible for all to enjoy. Today, DNR Secretary Josh Kurtz, Maryland Department of Disabilities Assistant Secretary John Brennan, and project partners held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the upgraded fishing area.

Working with the Maryland Department of Disabilities and other state and local partners, DNR upgraded the fishing platform at the Eldersburg park to make it ADA-compliant. The upgrades included reconfiguring the slope of the existing pathway, paving the parking lot, and creating a more favorable instream habitat to hold trout closer to the fishing platform. These improvements allow anglers with mobility disabilities to easily and safely access the fishing platform and provide a better fishing experience at Morgan Run. Read more…

DNR Fall Foliage Report – October 19, 2023


Fall Foliage as of 10/19

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable … the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street … by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.” —Hal Borland

Drone photo of red, green, yellow, and orange leaves

A Department of Natural Resources drone captured this patchwork of autumnal beauty over the Burkholder off-road vehicle trail area of Potomac-Garrett State Forest. Photo courtesy of Melissa Nash, forester.

Peak leaf change is right around the corner in the western half of the state, evident in the russet leaves of the oaks, bronze and yellow hickory canopies, and the dazzling ruby red maples. The weather conditions remain ideal during the weekdays when Marylander’s are experiencing crystal blue, sunlit skies during the day, winding down with star-filled skies and chilly temperatures at night. Weekend weather systems have been a regular feature, bringing us wind and rain across much of the region, resulting in premature leaf loss in some areas of our state. However, there is plenty of fall color to be found if you know where to look. And this week, Western Maryland steals the show. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – October 18

Photo of man holding a fish

Marty Zupancic fished the lower Bay recently for bluefish on his jet ski and cradled one while taking a selfie. Photo by Marty Zupancic

The middle of October is upon us and there are wonderful fishing opportunities throughout Maryland. The fall trout stocking program is underway and Chesapeake Bay anglers are enjoying good fishing for a variety of species.

New state records were set recently for two southern species, a barracuda and a pompano dolphinfish, which decided to wander north. This infrequently happens towards the end of summer when southern species catch a ride on the northbound Gulfstream and wind up a lot farther north of their normal range. Scientists and anglers alike are observing some changes in fish species’ range as water temperatures are generally getting warmer.
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Warm Winters, Low Water Flow Are Leading Factors in Poor Striped Bass Spawn

Environmental conditions are likely influencing reproduction in Chesapeake Bay, scientists say

Photo of small striped bass in a anet

Juvenile striped bass counted during the 2018 young-of-year survey. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Environmental factors such as warmer, drier winters and decreased spring water flow rates are likely driving forces behind the diminished spawning success of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources scientists.

Striped bass, or rockfish, have had low spawning success numbers for five consecutive years. DNR’s juvenile striped bass survey released Thursday found a 2023 young-of-year index of 1.0, compared to a long-term average of 11.1. The juvenile index, which measures the number of first-year striped bass per sample area, has been below 3.6 since 2019. 

Maryland scientists say that these juvenile numbers are concerning, but that continued study and management can help provide for a better chance for a successful spawn in years that present the right environmental conditions. Read more…

New Maryland State Records Established for Pompano Dolphinfish and Great Barracuda

Photo of man holding a fish on a dock

Angler Chris Stafford of Cherry Hill, N.J. caught a pompano dolphinfish (Coryphaena equiselis) weighing 2.0 pounds on September 20, 2023. Photo courtesy of Chris Stafford.

Photo of man on a boat holding a fish

Ellicott City resident Stephen Humphrey caught a great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) weighing 13.0 pounds on October 6, 2023. Photo by Erik Zlokovitz.

Two new records for new species have been established in the Atlantic Division of the Maryland state fishing records program. Angler Chris Stafford of Cherry Hill, N.J. caught  a pompano dolphinfish (Coryphaena equiselis) weighing 2.0 pounds on September 20, and Ellicott City resident Stephen Humphrey caught a great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) weighing 13.0 pounds on October 6. Both fish were caught off the coast of Ocean City. Read more…

Fall Hunting for Small Game and Turkey Offers Abundant Opportunities

Photo of turkey in a field

Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that squirrelrabbitfall turkey, and other small game seasons are either underway or set to open in the coming weeks. Some of these species offer generous seasons and bag limits and are abundant throughout Maryland. Read more…

Fall Foliage Report – October 12, 2023

Fall Foliage map as of 10/12/2023

“If I were a bird, I would fly about the Earth seeking successive autumns.”

– George Eliot

We’re feeling a drop in temperatures across the state, with parts of Western Maryland dipping into the low 30s. Cooler temperatures and sunny days bode well for leaf change. According to the U.S. Forest Service, trees are continuing to produce sugars in their leaves, but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins in leaves prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions – lots of sugar and light – spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint leaves with a variety of reds, purples, and crimson. However, optimal fall weather conditions cannot entirely undo the effects of this year’s summer drought, which is amounting to delays in leaf change and subdued color in the forest canopies. Read more…

Chesapeake Bay 2023 Young-of-Year Striped Bass Survey Results Announced

Photo of two scientists in the water surveying fish

During the annual survey, Maryland Department of Natural Resources fishery managers examine 22 sites located in four major striped bass spawning areas. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources today announced results of this year’s juvenile striped bass survey, which tracks the reproductive success of Maryland’s state fish in the Chesapeake Bay. The 2023 young-of-year index is 1.0, well below the long-term average of 11.1. Read more…

Maryland Black Bear Activity Increases Throughout Fall

Photo of black bear walking in a field

Photo by Mitch Adolph, submitted to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2023 Photo Contest. Used with permission.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that black bears are beginning a period of increased feeding activity in preparation for winter hibernation. As the leaves change and the weather cools, bears become more active as they search for food.

During this time, bears will travel across roads more frequently. They also can become more attracted to human-provided food sources and lose their natural fear of people, which can be dangerous for both people and bears.

Residents and visitors should note that keeping bird feeders, pet food and trash in a place where bears can’t get to them is the best way to avoid problems. Marylanders should also delay filling songbird feeders until the winter months to avoid attracting bears. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – October 11

Photo of man in a grassy area holding a fish

Mike Biskup holds up a whopper-sized largemouth bass he caught and released from a Chestertown pond recently. Photo courtesy of Mike Biskup

Fall’s cooler weather is driving many of our freshwater and marine fisheries into increased activity. The fall trout stocking program is underway, providing fun put-and-take trout fishing.

Read more…

Warming Temperatures Bring Different Animals to Maryland

Climate change makes region more hospitable to some newcomers—and more difficult for native species

Photo of white ibis

White ibises have started to nest at Martin National Wildlife Refuge.

A Salisbury man fishing for spotted sea trout Sept. 17 in the Chesapeake Bay pulled in a tall, silvery fish with a striking yellow underside.

It turned out to be the largest Florida pompano recorded in the state. It was also a living indication of a warming climate.

The Florida pompano is just one of multiple species of animals, largely fish and birds, that are appearing in the state more frequently at least partially as a result of climate change. Though these newcomers can increase biodiversity and generate excitement among residents and fishermen, scientists caution that they are also warning signs of a changing ecosystem.

Read more…

Governor Moore Announces New Annual Record for Chesapeake Bay Oyster Planting 

Photo of several people throwing water into a large tank

Governor Wes Moore. Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, DNR Secretary Josh Kurtz, and other guests toured the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge to observe oysters grown for restoration this summer. Photo by Anthony Burrows, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Governor Wes Moore today announced that more than 1.7 billion new juvenile oysters have been planted on sanctuary and public oyster fishery sites in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay this year, surpassing an ambitious 2023 planting goal and setting a new annual record. The milestone means that the state has planted almost 7 billion oysters since launching its large-scale oyster restoration strategy in 2014 with the help of numerous partners. 

“Planting 1.7 billion oysters this year shows the success of the broad partnership of watermen, scientists, academics, nonprofits, and state and federal government officials dedicated to this vital natural resource and economic driver for Maryland,” said Gov. Moore. “I’d like to thank the partner organizations and our dedicated Department of Natural Resources staff who enabled the state to achieve this significant accomplishment.” Read more…

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