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Secretary’s Message – March 2023

Renewing Our Commitment to our State Parks

Photo of people outside in a state park

Secretary Josh Kurtz tours Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center with rangers. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Although our state parks welcome visitors all year, the arrival of spring means that visitation of Maryland’s vast public lands is about to increase. As I have made my way to Maryland Department of Natural Resources facilities across the state, I have seen the exemplary preparedness and dedication of the Maryland Park Service in action.

Maryland Park Rangers live and embody the Park Service mission – “to manage the state’s natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources, to provide for wise stewardship and enjoyment” for all of Maryland’s citizens and visitors. I had the opportunity to spend time with the newest group of rangers, visiting members of the 13th class of Maryland Park Service Ranger School at Elk Neck State Park just before they graduated in February. I thank each of them for their commitment to their duties, sharing and preserving our most treasured lands and waters now and for future generations.

My first official state park visit as secretary was to a site that all Marylanders should experience – Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. I was honored to join Governor Moore, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and other partners to announce the discovery by state archaeologists of a home where enslaved people lived on the Thompson Farm, Tubman’s birthplace. It’s incredible to learn more about these artifacts and the story of her journey they tell, which is interpreted by our expert rangers. And this is an ideal time to visit – Harriet Tubman Day is in March and it is also Women’s History Month. As our Maryland Park Rangers protect the natural spaces and cultural sites that are important to our communities, the Moore-Miller administration is also committed to working with the General Assembly, making sure these rangers have the appropriate resources to fully realize their mission.

I look forward to seeing more of our great public land system as we go forward, and I hope to see you there as well.

Josh Kurtz is Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources