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Aboveboard: Fall 2018

Mark Belton HeadshotFall is a great time to enjoy our state’s spectacular and diverse terrain and gain a better understanding of 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.

In this edition of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, we learn more about the Piscataway, a Native American tribe in Southern Maryland that had lost their identity throughout colonization. This tribe recently gained official recognition by the state and has an agreement with some of our state parks, where they will host events to educate the public of our shared heritage.

On the subject of cultural education, our From the Field column focuses on Maryland Park Service Ranger Angela Crenshaw, assistant manager of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. Angie is one of the department’s leading historic presenters, relating Tubman’s remarkable story of bringing slaves to freedom—using her knowledge of reading the landscape and outdoor survival. Once you hear the compelling tale, you’ll want to see that land first-hand.

To keep this story alive, the state of Maryland has designated the 28,300-acre Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area in Dorchester County—protecting the natural landscape evocative of Harriet Tubman’s life, legacy and work, and conserving lands that contain and surround cultural and historic monuments and sites, including the park itself.

We’re also working to keep Maryland’s heritage of conservation-minded hunting. I urge you to read about the First Shot Turkey Hunt, a mentor program to introduce new hunters and welcome back lapsed hunters to the sport. Learn why these sportsmen are so important to conservation and wildlife management and how you can get involved.

In a conservation success story, wood ducks—once driven nearly to extinction by habitat destruction and excessive market hunting—now thrive in Maryland thanks to 100 years of research, regulation and responsive management. Today, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and passionate volunteers join forces to ensure their continued survival. In this magazine, you can read about one young Eagle Scout candidate who made this mission his own.

We’re also proud to present one of the department’s most ambitious ventures, as our biologists are working to restore freshwater mussels that have been absent from the Patapsco River for decades. Our collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have resulted in the return of hundreds of mussels to this scenic river, while more are being cultivated in hatcheries to further restore the native population to help filter the water.

In this edition, we also explore mysterious freshwater wetlands, called Delmarva bays, which are integral to the coastal ecosystem and home to a remarkable number of rare or endangered species. For many years, researchers struggled to understand what caused these egg-shaped ponds, which are found along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from New Jersey to Florida.

As the heat and humidity give way to the cool, crisp air of autumn, be sure to find your own adventure among the waters, wildlife and woodlands of Maryland. 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.

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

Mark Belton

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