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Aboveboard: Winter 2018

Mark Belton HeadshotFor the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, winter is anything but the “offseason.”

Our state offers a wide range of outdoor recreation for all seasons. In this edition of the Maryland Natural Resource, our experts discuss some true winter activities: snowmobiling and ice-fishing. These sound like things you hear about in the frozen north, but you can find out where and how you can do these activities—safely, of course—on state lands and waters.

Our state parks continue to offer programming throughout the year, and we’re always looking for new ways to expand access for visitors to enjoy them. This past Veterans Day, Governor Larry Hogan announced that all military veterans will be granted free admission and entrance to the network of 72 state parks.

This past fall, we also welcomed 19 new rangers who graduated from Maryland Park Service Ranger School at New Germany State Park in Garrett County. Each new ranger is now ready to take up a post.

Perhaps you will have had the chance to meet one of them at one of my favorite annual events: First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. There is no better way to start the year than a brisk walk through Maryland’s beautiful public spaces and historic sites.

If you’re not a fan of the cold weather, rest assured that plans are underway to prepare for summer. Shortly before Thanksgiving, I joined Governor Hogan and our partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to observe a major project to renourish the sandy beaches of Ocean City. Most of the millions of visitors to this major vacation spot don’t realize the beach itself is part of an ongoing, massive storm protection project. This partnership of state, federal and local governments has protected this barrier island from an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, preserving a key element our state’s economy and cultural identity.

Lest we forget the importance of the Atlantic Ocean itself, you can read about one of our staffers charged with helping to protect this important resource. Kim Hernandez, an ocean and coastal planner with our Chesapeake and Coastal Service, wears many hats in helping us study and maintain our aquatic resources. This edition’s From the Field looks into some of the tremendous work Kim has done since joining the department as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fellow in 2014.

I’m proud of the job our entire staff does in helping protect and preserve our precious natural resources and public spaces. On behalf of everyone at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, I wish you our warmest regards for this season, and I hope to see you outside.

Mark Belton