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Secretary’s Message: October 2017

Weather is Cooling, But Outdoor Activity is Just Warming Up

Photo of Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton

Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton

The summer has come and gone, and now it’s time to celebrate nature’s fall splendor. Comfortable days and temperatures, and spectacular scenery make October an exceptional month to enjoy the great outdoors.

Pick a forest, park or waterway and make a plan to bike, boat, camp, hike or hunt. To help you seek out the most vibrant scenery, we post weekly our Fall Foliage and Festival Report – produced in conjunction with the Maryland Office of Tourism – that shows you where to track the beautiful colors of the autumn season. Check our newsroom midweek for the latest edition or signup online to receive it via email.

With fall’s beauty comes a need for caution – drying vegetation, falling leaves and wind all add up to high risk for wildfires to spread. My thanks goes to our Maryland Forest Service wildfire team who battle wildland fires nationwide and educate the public about fire safety.

This season sees thousands of Marylanders take part in the hunting of bear, deer, turkey, waterfowl and other species. Hunting is an important and treasured part of our state’s outdoor culture and heritage, and an essential part of wildlife management, assuring healthy and safe populations. And with our new hunting apprenticeship program, getting into the sport is easier than ever.

Fall is also one of the best times for fishing. As water temperatures decrease, fish are biting a little more so they can store up enough energy to get them through the long winter. The oyster season officially starts in October as does fall trout stocking and “Rocktober,” when anglers know the striped bass are biting. Lest we forget that fall is also the best time for heavy and rusty Maryland blue crabs, which are often their biggest and best this time of year.

Whatever your interests, I encourage you to take part in one of the most dynamic times of year in our many public lands, parks and waters. I hope to see you outside.