While the Maryland Department of Natural Resources may be best known for conservation of Maryland’s natural resources, our mission also includes the preservation of Maryland’s historical and cultural resources. For example, Fort Frederick State Park features an active fortification from the French and Indian War. North Point State Park commemorates one of the most significant battles during the War of 1812. Merkle Natural Resources Management Area includes interpretation and programming focused on Maryland’s indigenous people and Native American heritage, and our historic preservation efforts do not stop with the assets and information we are aware of today. Our department is continually working with partners to research and explore our public lands to discover even more about our history.
In this edition of Maryland Natural Resource you will learn about a recent discovery and meet the team that unearthed a major missing component of Harriett Tubman’s story—the location of her father’s cabin in Dorchester County. The artifacts found onsite bring even more light to the fact that living and working with her father, Ben Ross, taught her how to navigate the lands and the waterways of the Eastern Shore. Those skills were key to her leading others safely to freedom.
We are pleased to have some of those artifacts on temporary display at her namesake park, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center, just a few miles from where this archeological treasure was found.
We have several other parks in our state park system that are named for individuals. In this edition we reveal the story behind those names—including Bill Burton, Helen Avalynne Tawes, and George Martinak—all of whom helped build our public lands system.
Also in this issue, we honor another highly recognizable Marylander who is lending her name to an important conservation effort for the wild horses at Assateague State Park. In August, Maryland’s First Lady Yumi Hogan joined me at Assateague, urging visitors to drive carefully and “Protect our Ponies,” through a new outreach campaign designed to reduce horse injuries and deaths.
This edition’s “From the Field” profile highlights one of our Maryland State Park Rangers who is the driving force behind some of our most well-loved programs. Ranger Melissa Acuti, Chief of Interpretation with the Maryland Park Service, creates and supports statewide park-based programs like First Day Hikes, Junior Rangers, Scales & Tales, Es Mi Parque, and Park Quest.
This edition also features a major conservation project in central Maryland from the perspective of one of our valued land conservation partners. Bill Crouch, Maryland Director of The Conservation Fund, shares the behind-the-scenes story of a multi-year effort, which includes his organization, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Harford Land Trust, and Aberdeen Proving Ground, to protect a property once referred to as “Hollywood One” and slated for major development. Instead, in late 2020, the Maryland Forest Service added the 905 acres of hardwood forest to the Stoney Demonstration Forest in Harford County, permanently protecting a significant area of tree canopy and wildlife habitat.
I hope you enjoy all of these articles as well as our state’s natural, historical, and cultural resources.
Article appears in Vol. 24, No. 4 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, fall 2021.