Take a Tour of “America in Miniature”
If you look at a map of the United States, Maryland appears small—so small that depending on the map, you may hardly be able to see it at all.
But when you’re here, the land of the Free State is actually quite expansive and diverse. In the 1970s, National Geographic dubbed Maryland, “America in Miniature,” due to the fact that nearly every kind of terrain can be found here – from the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the expansive marshes of the Chesapeake Bay, to vast acres of farmland and the rocky Appalachian mountains. In between, you’ll find the beautiful rolling hills of Maryland’s horse country, the spectacular sight of massive sunflower fields, and miles upon miles of water trails to travel by kayak or canoe, just like those who came before us.
Across it all, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources oversees more than a half-million acres of public lands, including state forests, wildlife management areas and 75 state parks. Those lands feature more than 900 miles of trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding, as well as unique water access and camping facilities.
These places connect us with nature and help rejuvenate us. Everyone should take the opportunity to kick off the New Year with a First Day Hike, like I did this year at Patapsco Valley State Park. Every January 1, more than 30 of our parks and public lands welcome thousands of hikers for guided and unguided tours as part of this national event. It’s a great commitment to both preserving our land and our own health.
These lands also connect the people of Maryland to our past by conserving the state’s rich history, in places like Fort Frederick, built during the French and Indian War, Point Lookout, where American lookouts spotted British ships in two wars, and which later served as a prison camp in the Civil War, and of course the awe-inspiring story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, as told in our park near her Dorchester County birthplace.
The mission of the Maryland Park Service is to manage our state’s natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources to provide for wise stewardship and enjoyment by citizens and visitors alike. In support of that mission, our administration is proud to have increased funding for public lands and overseen an expansion of the land under our care and management.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch those investments at work. And I’m committed to visiting all of our state parks and other public lands by the time I leave office.
What I’ve discovered above all else is the amazing dedication of the people who care for these lands—staff, volunteers and visitors who are absolutely devoted to their stewardship. More than 6,000 volunteers and 30 friends groups contribute more than 90,000 hours of service every year to the upkeep and enhancement of these lands.
When it comes to the love that people have for their land, there is nothing miniature about Maryland. I hope you’ll join me in discovering the amazing world that’s right in our own backyard.
Lt. Governor Rutherford is taking on the Maryland state parks challenge! Track his progress as he visits Maryland’s public lands!
Check out the interactive map online for updates and photos of “Rutherford’s Travels.”
Article by Boyd K. Rutherford, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. Appears in Vol. 22, No. 3 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, summer 2019.