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Secretary’s Message: September 2018

Help Celebrate and Preserve Maryland’s Historic Beauty

Photo of Secretary Belton presenting a governor's citation to the Harriet Tubman Organization.

Secretary Mark Belton presents a governor’s citation to the Harriet Tubman Organization in Cambridge.

Labor Day may be the end of summer vacation, but now is a time when outdoor recreation is getting ready to peak.

September is a month when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources highlights our state’s spectacular and diverse terrain, and the role it plays in our culture, heritage and living history. Opportunities abound to immerse yourself in the scenic splendor, storied past and bright and prosperous future.

We invite everyone to an open house Sept. 9 at the Woodmont Lodge in Washington County. This annual event allows guests to tour the 18,785-square foot building rich in architecture and history – as well as its surrounding 3,500 acres of woodland and trails — while hearing vivid tales of this early 20th century hunting lodge’s place in Western Maryland. 

North Point State Park will host a historic commemoration event Sept. 12 to mark a very special Maryland holiday, Defenders Day. It is the anniversary of the successful defense of Baltimore City from a British siege in 1814 — the event Francis Scott Key documented and immortalized in his poem that would become the Star-Spangled Banner and National Anthem. North Point State Battlefield preserves 9 acres of open land, which represent the last undeveloped parcel from the site of the Battle of North Point, a turning point in that campaign, which tested and proved the resilience of our young republic and the Old Line State.

This is also the month we celebrate International Coastal Cleanup Day Sept. 15 and National Public Lands Day Sept. 29 (is held annually on the fourth Saturday of September). In Maryland, we will have volunteer cleanup and conservation events almost every weekend. Check out our online calendar for an opportunity near you.

With about a half-million acres of public lands in our state, we continue to expand our efforts to preserve, protect and provide access to our shared natural resources. Recently, the Board of Public Works approved 16 Rural Legacy Program grants – totaling over $25 million – that will provide funding to permanently protect working farms and forests across the state. The item includes the designation of the 28,300-acre Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area in Dorchester County, which will protect the natural land- and view-scape evocative of Tubman’s life, legacy and work, and conserve lands containing and surrounding cultural and historic monuments and sites, including the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center.

Most importantly, whatever your interest, this is a month to get outside, as the heat and humidity give way to the cool, crisp air of autumn. Be sure to keep an eye out for our Fall Foliage and Festival Report, where we will keep you informed of the growing autumn splendor in our forests and parks, and the many community and cultural events that celebrate our outdoor heritage.

As always, I encourage you to explore every opportunity to experience Maryland’s vast cultural, historical and natural resources, and I hope to see you outside!