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Secretary’s Message: March 2018

Seeking the Input of Maryland’s Experts – You

Photo of Secretary Mark Belton talking with hikersI have the privilege of working with a dedicated team of experts in the natural sciences. The staff of every unit at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is committed to constantly refining the management of public resources – fisheries, forests, public lands, waterways and wildlife.

But nothing we do can move forward without the most important member of our team – you!

Public comment and input are essential to our mission.

Right now, Marylanders have multiple opportunities to make their voices heard before we design or implement policies and practices that impact our shared natural resources.

For example the department is accepting public comment on proposed changes to the 2018-2020 hunting and trapping seasons. The department evaluates possible changes every two years and, in recent months, has presented proposed management concepts to a variety of external and internal partners and stakeholders, including farmers, hunters, trappers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

We’re also accepting public comment on the proposed 2018-2019 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons. The seasons will be finalized in early spring after the department obtains approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Input from our dedicated waterfowling community is vital to helping us improve and manage hunting opportunities throughout the state.

Maryland’s active angler community – both commercial and recreational – is regularly engaged through the public comment process, including at the public meetings of our various commissions, committees and councils. These include meetings on aquaculture, blue crabs, clams, oysters, striped bass and more. Members of the public are always welcome to participate.

We also routinely seek comment on plans for our state forests, parks, wildlife management areas and their long-term management plans, asking your help in our efforts to preserve public spaces for their environmental value and recreational enjoyment. In fact, we are now inviting residents and nonresidents to share their thoughts on land conservation, preservation and recreation in the state.

I’m also pleased to announce I’ll soon convene the Maryland Outdoor Recreational Economic Commission. Created by Governor Larry Hogan last fall, this commission will develop innovative strategies to market Maryland’s unique outdoor and heritage recreation brand, as well as recommend initiatives to attract new companies and revenue. Additionally, the commission will explore ways to retain and support existing outdoor recreation businesses.

Throughout the public comment process, I encourage you to attend a public meeting, participate in a workgroup or submit a note on a given proposal. Let us know how you stand and why.

Make your position known, make your voice heard!