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Secretary’s Message: November 2017

Photo of Secretary Mark Belton at Rocks State Park

Secretary Mark Belton tours Rocks State Park.

I regularly encourage everyone to get outside to enjoy Maryland’s great outdoors, especially our state parks and their 900 miles of trails, as well as unique water access and camping facilities found throughout the state.

As part of that encouragement, we’re always looking to be innovative in our ways of providing outdoor recreation opportunities, both in the investments we make in our natural resources, and the products and services we offer to access them.

One popular product we offer is the Maryland State Park & Trail Passport, which covers entrance fees to our vast network of 72 state parks across the state for an entire calendar year. The passport is a great, economical way for everyone, especially families, to enjoy the best of the Maryland Park Service. Plus, if you purchase a 2018 passport today you can use it throughout the remainder of 2017.

We also offer a Golden Age Pass, which provides people, aged 62 or older, free day-use entry and complimentary boat launch, in addition to half-price camping Sunday through Thursday. This lifetime pass costs a one-time fee of $10. And now it can now purchase one online at

For our next generation of park advocates and guests, we have once again partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Every Kid in a Park program. This program provides fourth-grade children and their families free admission to Maryland state parks, along with national parks and other federal lands across the country.

As we develop these future stewards of our public lands and spaces, we’re also looking for ways to expand, improve and support those resources. To help keep that promise, I’m proud that Governor Larry Hogan has named me as co-chair of the newly formed Maryland Outdoor Recreational Economic Commission, which will develop strategies and make recommendations to strengthen the state’s outdoor recreation industry and help ensure increased investment in our state’s outdoor activities, economies and resources.

I share the governor’s hope that our work will help ensure that our state’s natural heritage is strengthened, bringing about new businesses, increased visitation and tourism, and ultimately enhance and preserve our natural resources for this and future generations.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!