Secretary’s Message: September 2017
A Higher Level of Protection for Our Lands and Waters
In August I had the opportunity to participate in a Maryland Natural Resources Police boating and water safety patrol off Ocean City. I was fortunate to get a birds-eye view in our newly reacquired helicopter, Natural 1, during a flight to ensure the safety of anglers and boaters along Maryland’s waterways.
Natural 1 has been back in the air for about a year since we restarted the aviation unit following a seven-year absence. The helicopter is a force multiplier, providing many times its own value in terms of prevention and deterrence of conservation law violations.
At the Ocean City patrol in mid-August, Natural 1 was used in tandem with our other boats and officers to effectively patrol a large swath of land and water that was crowded with weekend traffic.
The aerial presence is part of a focused and concerted effort by our police and partners, along with a lot of educational outreach. And while no price can be put on lives saved, our Jet Bell Ranger helicopter is also a great value to taxpayers. With the strong support of Governor Larry Hogan, the department reacquired the helicopter at no cost from a federal military surplus program. Operational costs are about $350 per hour for Natural 1, a fraction of the costs incurred by Maryland State Police helicopters, which provided air support in our aviation unit’s absence.