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Natural Resources News

NRP Reminds Maryland’s Recreational Crabbers to Comply with Conservation Laws

Photo of turtle excluder devices

Crab traps with turtle excluders attached are available at many retailers. Maryland DNR photo.

Maryland’s blue crab season officially opens April 1 in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean and coastal bays. With the opening of a new season comes an increased presence by Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers to educate the public and enforce laws pertaining to crabbing, particularly with recreational crabbers and owners of private shorelines. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – March 20, 2023

Photo of woman on a kayak with a catfish

Lindsey Straiton may need a larger kayak if she keeps catching blue catfish this large. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Straiton

Anglers have a lot of fishing opportunities to look forward to this week. For our trout anglers under the age of 16, Maryland’s first youth-only trout fishing day occurs this Saturday, March 23. Anglers are still catching white perch in the upper sections of spawning rivers, and largemouth bass, crappie, and blue catfish are providing good fishing.  

Read more…

2024 Keep Maryland Beautiful Grants Total $236,276

Grants Supports Communities, Land Trusts, and Nonprofits

Photo of children working in an urban garden

Living Classrooms at Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center in Baltimore received a Keep Maryland Beautiful Grant in 2023. Photo Courtesy of Living Classrooms Foundation.

Maryland Environmental Trust has approved 18 grants totaling $236,276 to be awarded for environmental education, community cleanup, and beautification projects through the Keep Maryland Beautiful program.

Grants through the Keep Maryland Beautiful program are awarded to volunteer-based and nonprofit groups, communities, schools, and land trusts in Maryland. The grants are designed to support environmental education projects, litter removal, community stewardship, and to help protect natural resources in urban and rural areas. 

Presented annually since 1986, the grant program is managed by the Maryland Environmental Trust – a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources – and administered on the department’s behalf by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Maryland Environmental Trust’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the grants after staff completed the application and review process.

The grants are funded by the Maryland Environmental Trust, Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture Read more…

Port of Chestertown Earns Maryland Clean Marina Status

Photo of marina with boats

Port of Chestertown Marina, photo courtesy of Town of Chestertown.

The Port of Chestertown Marina recently passed inspection by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and will earn the Maryland Clean Marina Award. This award brings Maryland’s total number of Clean Marinas and Clean Marina Partners to 147 – about 30 percent of the marinas in Maryland. In Kent County, 22 percent of the estimated 31 marinas are certified as Clean Marinas. Read more…

Maryland Youth Fishing Rodeo Schedule Set for 2024 Season

Dozens of events offer safe and free fishing for children and teens

Photo of people gathered around a lake to fish

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources encourages youths ages 3 to 15 to try their hand at fishing or hone their angling skills at any of Maryland’s 50 youth fishing rodeos spread out across the state this year. 

The department is working with dozens of organizations in 14 counties to offer free and engaging fishing opportunities for thousands of youth. Many events are held in Maryland State Parks and other public lands.  Read more…

Seventh Angler Earns FishMaryland Master Angler Award

Zeljko Koretic of Baltimore County recognized as a Master Angler

Photo of man on a boat holding a fish

Zeljko “Zee” Koretic holds up a summer flounder he caught in August 2023, one of the ten species that count toward his Master Angler status. Photo courtesy of Zeljko Koretic.

Zeljko Koretic of Middle River, Baltimore County, has earned a Master Angler Milestone Award under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ FishMaryland program

The award recognizes recreational anglers who catch ten different species of fish in Maryland at trophy-size length. Koretic is the seventh Master Angler since the program began in 2019. 

The FishMaryland program covers dozens of species from both salt and freshwater. All ten catches that earned Koretc the Master Angler award are listed below and on individual certificates sent to the angler. DNR will present the Master Angler award certificate and a gift card prize at Bass Pro Shops in Arundel Mills. Koretic caught his tenth FishMaryland eligible fish, a 15.5-inch crappie, while on a carp fishing trip on the Gunpowder River on March 8, 2024. Read more…

Cunningham Falls State Park to Close Campground and Water Access During Sewer Line Upgrade

Photo of entrance sign for Cunningham Falls State Park

Photo by Ranger Mark Spurrier/Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

A sewer line renovation and replacement project along Maryland Route 77 will require the temporary closure of some activities in the William Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont starting in April and extending into the summer months. 

The project, spearheaded by Maryland Environmental Service with cooperation from the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Park Service, includes the excavation and replacement of aging underground sewer lines that provide service to the William Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park. Read more…

Maryland Conservation Corps Members Kick off AmeriCorps Week With Invasive Plant Removal Project

The Conservation Corps is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources and AmeriCorps

Maryland Conservation Corps members pose with state and AmeriCorps officials in front of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park. Photo by Joe Zimmermann/DNR

Maryland Conservation Corps members pose with state and AmeriCorps officials in front of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park. Photo by Joe Zimmermann/Maryland DNR

Maryland Conservation Corps members gathered at Sandy Point State Park on Tuesday to share stories about why they felt called to serve and what they’ve learned from their work, before setting out for a day of cutting back invasive plants.

As part of AmeriCorps Week, the event brought representatives from AmeriCorps and Maryland state agencies to the Chesapeake Bay-front park in Annapolis to celebrate the ongoing achievements of the Maryland Conservation Corps. A partnership between AmeriCorps and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Conservation Corps places about 40 members across eight state parks every year.

At the event, the Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation presented AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith with a proclamation from Gov. Wes Moore declaring this week as AmeriCorps Week in Maryland, noting how the service work through the program strengthens members, communities, and the state as a whole. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – March 13

Photo of young boy holding a fish

Angler Talan Scott Vrablic holds a chain pickerel. Photo by Raymond Vrablic III

As we inch closer to spring, anglers are enjoying fishing for a variety of species this week. The white perch spawning runs are in high gear, the preseason stocking of trout is taking place, blue catfish are abundant, and our resident species such as the beautiful chain pickerel are providing plenty of fun fishing opportunities.

Catch and release opportunities for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay begin below the Brewerton Channel and extend south to the Virginia Line. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources website includes maps and information on areas open to catch and release until March 31. All catch and release of striped bass will be prohibited from April 1 until May 15

Read more…

Maryland Accepts Donation of Holly Beach Farm – A Unique Chesapeake Bay Property in Anne Arundel County

Photo of people walking in a wooded waterfront area

Governor Wes Moore joined Secretary Josh Kurtz and staff at Holly Beach Farm in February. Photo by Patrick Siebert, Office of the Governor.

The Board of Public Works today approved the Maryland Department of Natural Resources accepting the donation of Holly Beach Farm, a 293-acre waterfront property in Anne Arundel County, from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for all Marylanders to experience the Chesapeake Bay,” said Gov. Wes Moore. “I offer my thanks to the many partners who helped make today’s transfer happen, including our friends at the National Park Service, the Conservation Fund, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Mrs. Leonie Gately, who had the vision to protect this land for the future. I am looking forward to visiting again soon to see the great work our Department of Natural Resources’ team does to prepare this property for the future.”
Read more…

Controlled Burn Planned for Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area in March

Photo of entrance sign for Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area

Maryland DNR photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct a controlled burn on Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Allegany County between March 14 and March 29 as weather and other conditions allow. Smoke will be visible in the area north of Oldtown, and residents and visitors should be aware that this is not a wildfire.  

Access to the wildlife management area at Ruby Road will be limited during the burn due to potential low visibility due to smoke, but will reopen as soon as the burn is completed. 

The fire will be a low controlled flame targeting underbrush and ground cover debris. The purpose of the burn is to improve habitat for wildlife and to restore stands of pitch pine and improve oak regeneration.  Read more…

Maryland Catfish Tournaments Offer Invasive Species Angling

Photo of four people holding large fish next to a river

Blue catfish caught at the 2022 Sharptown Catfish Tournament on the Nanticoke River and Marshyhope Creek. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

With record catches around the country tipping the scales at more than a hundred pounds, blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) have become quite the draw for anglers in the Chesapeake Bay. Introduced in the 1970s as a recreational fishing target species in Virginia, invasive blue catfish populations have grown rapidly in Maryland waters.

As commercial harvests of blue catfish have risen exponentially, recreational fishing for the species is becoming more popular as a way to enjoy a day angling as well as bring plenty of fish home for dinner. Commercial landings of blue catfish have grown from 609,525 pounds in 2013 to 4.2 million pounds in 2023, more than a 500% increase in the past decade. The fish is increasingly showing up on menus and in grocery stores, helping it to become more appealing as table fare. Read more…

Muskrat Trapping Season Extended to March 22 in Select Maryland Counties

Photo of muskrat swimming

Muskrat, photo by Nathaniel Peck, submitted to Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has added a one-week extension to the muskrat trapping season in all counties except Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, and Washington counties. The revised season will now close March 22, 2024 to make up for unfavorable weather conditions.

A series of unusually high tides have limited trapper access to many waterways and wetlands, reducing the ability and opportunity to harvest this valuable furbearer. Read more…

Secretary’s Message – Spring Forth into Nature

Photo of people walking on a path in the woods

First Lady Dawn Moore joined DNR and a group of local high school students for the “Global Day of Unplugging” March 1 at Patapsco Valley State Park. Maryland DNR photo.

March is a transition month – the beginning of spring is perhaps the most visible and dramatic of all seasonal changes within a short span of time. While our public lands and waters offer access to nature all year, March is an especially busy time as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) makes preparations for the warm weather months ahead. 

Staff in our parks and state forests are readying campsites for reopening in spring. It’s a great time to start planning your outdoor adventures this year by visiting our online reservation system. All parks that offer camping will have campsites available for rent before or by Memorial Day. At the same time, there are a few remaining weeks for wintertime activities, especially in the western region of our state, where the cold weather lasts a little longer. One of late winter’s big activities in Maryland is the Maple Syrup Festival in Cunningham Falls State Park.  Read more…

Maryland’s Oyster Restoration Sanctuaries Show Promising Signs for Shellfish Recovery

At restoration sites, oysters are establishing dense, productive reefs

oyster reef

A restored oyster reef in the Harris Creek sanctuary in 2021. In a thriving oyster reef, oyster shells accumulate into three-dimensional structures where crabs scuttle, sea squirts dangle and fish dart through clearings. Like coral reefs, oyster reefs support an ecosystem that flourishes around them. Photo by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

At first, oyster biologists were concerned. Monitoring efforts at some restoration sanctuary reefs in 2022 weren’t pulling up many oysters, even though the sites had previously been performing well.

So divers with the Oyster Recovery Partnership went into the water to investigate. What they found there wasn’t a shortage of oysters, but such a dense and mature population that the shellfish had cemented into three-dimensional reefs, thick enough that the team’s patent tongs sampling gear weren’t able to get them out of the water. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – March 6

Photo of man holding a large fish in a boat

Blue catfish, photo courtesy of Rich Gray.

Welcome to March and the first signs of spring – including our first fishing report for the 2024 season. Blooming daffodils, departing Canada geese, the arrival of ospreys, and the spring spawning runs of yellow and white perch are happening all around us. Many anglers have been fishing through the winter months due to the generous preseason trout stocking program and the abundance of blue catfish that we encourage everyone to help remove.

Read more…

Maryland Spring 2024 Trout Fishing Season Opens March 30

Photo of a trout in the water

Brown trout, photo by John Mullican, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is set to release thousands of hatchery-raised brown, golden, and rainbow trout across the state in areas temporarily closed to fishing in preparation for opening day on March 30. This year, the start time for fishing in all Closure 1 and Closure 2 areas is 6:30 a.m.  Read more…

Baltimore County Angler Earns FishMaryland Master Angler Award

Rashan Hunt is the sixth angler to be recognized as a Master Angler

Photo of man holding a long fish

Maryland Master Angler Rashan Hunt holds the chain pickerel he caught at Loch Raven Reservoir. Photo courtesy Rashan Hunt, used with permission by Maryland DNR

Rashan Hunt of Sparrows Point, Baltimore County, has earned a Master Angler Milestone Award under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ FishMaryland program

The award recognizes recreational anglers who catch ten different species of fish in Maryland at trophy-size length. Hunt is the sixth Master Angler since the program began, and achieved the award with a tenth confirmed catch, a 24-inch chain pickerel caught February 26 at Loch Raven Reservoir. Read more…

Maple Syrup Festival 2024 Gets Cooking at Cunningham Falls State Park

Event takes place two weekends in March

Photo of people watching  maple syrup being boiled in a large kettle.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to come celebrate the annual Maple Syrup Festival at Cunningham Falls State Park, the weekends of March 9-10 and March 16-17. During this event, held annually for more than 50 years, guests can gather around the Sugar Shack to watch sugarmakers demonstrate the traditional way of boiling sap into syrup against the backdrop of Maryland’s woodlands. Read more…

First Lady Dawn Moore Hikes with Local Students on Global Day of Unplugging to Highlight Nature’s Benefits to Children’s Mental Health

Photo of several people and a dog hiking on a trail in the woods

First Lady Dawn Moore, Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz walk a trail at Patapsco Valley State Park. Photo courtesy Maryland Governor’s Office.

First Lady Dawn Moore today celebrated the Global Day of Unplugging by participating in a hike and yoga exercises with state officials and local students at Patapsco Valley State Park in Halethorpe. Joined by Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz; Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott; mental health and environmental experts; and nearly a dozen Howard County high school students, the first lady and all participants disconnected from their phones to experience nature and learn about how teens and adults can disconnect from the digital world to improve mental health. Now in its 15th year, the Global Day of Unplugging is designed to be a 24-hour day of digital detox from March 1 – 2. 

“Improving the mental health of Maryland’s children is one of my top priorities as first lady,” said First Lady Dawn Moore. “I encourage parents to help their children take time to unplug from the digital world and  explore the world around them, including Maryland’s natural beauty. I am proud to be working in partnership with our state agencies, community organizations, and our young students to help improve the mental health of all Maryland children.”  Read more…

Winter Survey Takes Stock of the Chesapeake Bay’s Blue Crabs

DNR measures hundreds of sites to help provide a snapshot of the crab population

At a nondescript spot in the middle of the Choptank River, the Mydra Ann slowed to a crawl.

The crew aboard the crabbing boat, a mix of Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientists and commercial watermen, readied the gear. With a thud, the large, steel-toothed dredge met the water of the Choptank, its chain whirring along the center of the boat as the metal bars lined with netting descended to the river bottom.

After a one-minute drag traveling at 3 knots, the crew pulled up the dredge and emptied its contents onto the deck. Among the leaf litter, small rocks, and chunks of ice, small crustaceans shifted groggily—juvenile blue crabs.

“It’s Christmas every day,” said Chris Walstrum, a DNR natural resource biologist. “You don’t know what you’re gonna get.”

Read more…

Maryland Wetlands Map Identifies Areas That Could Be Affected by Sea Level Rise

Identifying future wetlands can help guide conservation

Wetlands in Jug Bay in Maryland

Wetlands in Jug Bay in Lothian. DNR photo

As sea level rise changes the coastal landscape of Maryland in the future some existing wetlands will be submerged, while existing land will become wetlands. 

A state mapping project coordinated by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides a look ahead at what areas could become flooded or have potential as beneficial wetlands in the future. The project is intended to help officials prepare for sea level rise and identify areas that are in need of conservation action.

DNR, in collaboration with George Mason University and The Nature Conservancy, ran an updated model to predict the future location and size of wetlands resulting from sea level rise. Using this model, the team also created a data layer that scores coastal areas based on their future potential as wetlands.

Read more…

Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Number of Wildfires, Acreage Burned Increased in 2023

Acreage burned by wildfires in 2023 was more than double the 10-year average, with one significant fire responsible for the increase

A Maryland Forest Service firefighter contains a wildfire. DNR File Photo.

The number of wildfires and the acreage of land burned by wildfires in Maryland last year significantly outpaced the 10-year average, according to the Maryland Forest Service’s Annual Wildland Fire Report.

The report, which is being released this month, covers data related to wildfires on 3.2 million acres of land overseen by the Maryland Forest Service.

In 2023, these lands experienced 199 wildfires in 2023 that burned approximately 4,483 acres. Both figures were higher than the 10-year averages of 127.8 wildfires per year and 2,376 acres burned, according to Forest Service data.

Read more…

Maryland Park Service Graduates 21 New State Park Rangers

Photo of several uniformed park rangers standing at attention

Maryland’s State Park Ranger School Class of 2021, photo by AJ Metcalf, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Park Service today graduated 21 new State Park Rangers following four weeks of training. The rangers were honored in a ceremony at Elk Neck State Park and NorthBay Adventure Camp. Read more…

Montgomery County Angler Catches Maryland State Record Rainbow Trout

Long-standing record beaten by fish caught in Antietam Creek, Devil’s Backbone 

Photo of man holding a fish next to a creek

Photo courtesy of Jean-Philippe Lartigue, used with permission.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recognizes Jean-Philippe Lartigue of Bethesda as a new state record holder for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Nontidal Division. Lartigue caught a 17.44-pound rainbow trout February 10 in the section of Antietam Creek running through Devil’s Backbone County Park in Washington County.  Read more…

Maryland Hunters Harvest 72,642 Deer for 2023-2024 Season

More than 10% were harvested on Sundays

Photo of antlerless deer in the woods

Photo by Debbie Blair, submitted to Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that deer hunters harvested 72,642 deer during the combined archery, firearms, and muzzleloader seasons, from Sept. 8, 2023 through Feb. 3, 2024.

The statewide harvest included 30,025 antlered and 38,511 antlerless white-tailed deer, and 1,912 antlered and 2,194 antlerless sika deer. The harvest was 5% lower than the 2022-2023 total of 76,687 deer. Read more…

Two Studies by DNR Scientists Highlight Spawning Challenges for Striped Bass

Research looks at historical egg data and changes in spawning season timing and duration

A DNR biologist measures a juvenile striped bass as part of the annual young-of-year survey. DNR photo

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist measures a juvenile striped bass as part of the annual young-of-year survey. Maryland DNR photo

Two recent studies by Maryland Department of Natural Resources scientists highlight spawning challenges that striped bass, also known locally as rockfish, face in the Chesapeake Bay. 

The research was published in “Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science” in late 2023 for the journal’s striped bass themed issue. 

Jim Uphoff, a DNR fisheries biologist, authored a paper that uses long-term datasets to bring a new perspective to the history of the striped bass stock collapse and rebound in the last decades of the 20th century. Angela Giuliano, also a DNR fisheries biologist, published a study that looks at the effects of warming water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay on the timing and length of the striped bass spawning season. 

Read more…

DNR Seeks Public Input for Upcoming Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits

Comment period includes migratory game bird season proposal for the coming season

Photo of woman and dog hunting in a cornfield

Maryland DNR photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comment on proposed changes to the 2024-2026 hunting and trapping seasons as well as the proposed 2024-2025 Migratory Game Bird Seasons and Bag Limits Read more…

Maryland Enacts Striped Bass Emergency Regulations to Increase Protections for the Spawning Population

Photo of striped bass in a net for scientific survey

Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists survey and tag striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay as part of the annual survey of the population. Maryland DNR photo

Striped bass emergency regulations submitted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to bolster the species’ spawning population were approved today by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, and are effective immediately.

The emergency regulations extend periods of closure to recreational striped bass fishing in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Targeting of striped bass will be prohibited from April 1 to May 15, eliminating the Maryland striped bass trophy season. In the Susquehanna Flats, targeting of striped bass is prohibited through the end of May. 

The Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery area for 70% to 90% of the striped bass of the Atlantic coast. The emergency regulation is aimed at protecting the mature fish that travel up the Bay and return to the rivers where they hatched to spawn each spring. Read more…

Secretary’s Message – Resources for Birders in Maryland

Photo of man viewing a bird handler

Visiting the aviary at Tuckahoe State Park, photo by Anthony Burrows, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The groundhog has emerged and says we will have an early spring. While the furry marmot from the north may lack meteorological training, it is true that spring arrives in a little more than six weeks, and we can start looking for its earliest signs in the coming weeks. 

One of spring’s most enduring signs is the arrival of more birds in Maryland, returning from their migration or just becoming more present as their food supplies become widespread. One of my own favorite harbingers of spring is the return of the osprey. These graceful birds of prey migrate each year from their winter homes in South or Central America to different parts of the U.S. Each year, more than 10,000 osprey breeding pairs summer in the Chesapeake Bay.  

However, birds are an important and fascinating part of Maryland’s wildlife scene all year. These animals bring a unique beauty to our diverse collection of wildlife and provide valuable insight into the health of our ecosystems and changes in climate. Read more…

Governor Moore Visits Maryland Department of Natural Resources In Support of Administration’s Efforts to Build Maryland’s Environmental Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Photo of governor addressing a room full of people

Gov. Wes Moore speaks to staff at Tawes State Office Building, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Annapolis. Photo by Joseph Andrucyk, Office of the Governor.

Governor Wes Moore today visited the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis. The governor met with Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz, department leadership, and employees to hear first hand about the agency’s leadership in building Maryland’s environmental resilience in the face of climate change.

“Maryland’s culture is defined by the Chesapeake Bay and the moments we create while we enjoy it and its bounty,” said Gov. Moore. “I am proud to learn more about how Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is working across state lines and partnering with organizations to establish a stronger future for the Bay and its watershed – doing so will help Maryland move toward its goal of creating the greenest state in the country.” Read more…

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Offers Grants for Invasive Fish Removal

Photo of four people holding large catfish at the side of a river

Anglers show their catch of large blue catfish at the 2022 Sharptown Catfish Tournament. Maryland DNR photo.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now accepting applications for invasive fish control grants of up to $5,000. This grant program seeks to support effective ways to remove invasive fish, particularly blue catfish and Northern snakeheads, from Maryland waters and identify sustained beneficial uses of caught fish. The application deadline is April 15, 2024, and awards will be announced in early May. Read more…

Midwinter 2024 Waterfowl Survey Results Released

Annual survey estimates number of wintering ducks, geese, and swans 

Photo of several takes taking flight from the water

Photo by State Park Ranger Elena Gilroy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted their annual population estimates of ducks, geese and swans along the state’s Chesapeake Bay, tidal Potomac River and Atlantic coast shorelines. This year, the teams counted about 593,200 waterfowl which was lower than the 632,200 birds observed in 2023 but consistent with the most recent five-year average of 596,500 birds. Read more…

Shifting Sands: Maryland Keeps an Eye in the Sky on Vulnerable Areas

Drone mapping observes dune changes at Assateague Island

Photo of a drone on a landing bad on a beach

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources drone prepares to launch to survey Assateague Island’s sand movement. Maryland DNR photo

The impact of rising seas, stronger storms, and an eroding shoreline might leave the future of Assateague Island up in the air – and that’s exactly where the Department of Natural Resources is monitoring the coastal property with the use of aerial drones.

Unique among Maryland’s public lands, Assateague State Park comprises part of a barrier island that provides a peaceful beach respite to more than a million visitors a year. But the relaxed atmosphere belies the island’s tumultuous place protecting the mainland from the powerful forces of the Atlantic Ocean. Read more…

MyCoast Data Shows Impact of January Flooding

Community reports in MyCoast app reveal extent of flooding across the state

An Annapolis street covered in water from flooding.

Flooding in Annapolis on Jan. 9. Photo submitted to MyCoast, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

On Jan. 9, Maryland was hit by a storm that brought intense rain, strong winds and high tides.

It resulted in the most active week yet for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ MyCoast MD app. The app allows users to submit reports and photos of flooding, as well as other environmental information. The storm brought in about 400 new users for MyCoast, along with 248 reports of flooding. Read more…

DNR Expands Successful Program for Agricultural Landowners to Protect Waterways Statewide

Photo of young trees planted in rows in a field

Tree plantings for a forest buffer, as seen on a Washington County CREP easement, are a key best management practice.” Maryland DNR photo.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is expanding the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) permanent easement program statewide for the preservation of agricultural land and protection of waterways. 

Previously these easements were available in nine Maryland counties; now, landowners across Maryland with existing federal CREP contracts can participate in this significant land conservation program. The expansion was approved Jan. 3 by the Board of Public of Works – Gov. Wes Moore, Comptroller ​Brooke E. Lierman, and Treasurer Dereck E. Davis. Read more…

Maryland Forest Service Now Accepting Applications for the Community Forestry Catalyst Fund

Photo of three men shoveling dirt in a park

Baltimore Ravens players helping plant trees in a city park in 2023. Maryland DNR photo

The Maryland Forest Service is offering a new grant program to distribute $4.8 million in federal Inflation Reduction Act funds towards urban and community forestry projects during the next four years. 

The Community Forestry Catalyst Fund expands resources for Maryland’s ambitious commitment to enhance its forest cover and tree canopy through the state’s 5 Million Trees for Maryland initiative and existing programs, like the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Urban Trees Grant Program. These programs prioritize tree plantings where they can provide the greatest benefits to people, such as heat island abatement, air quality regulation, and flooding reduction.  Read more…

Baltimore County Resident Earns FishMaryland Master Angler Award

Tim Campbell is the fifth angler to receive the award, and second in a year

Photo of man on a boat with a large fish

Tim Campbell caught and released this striped bass December 21, 2023, completing his list of ten different specie caught to earn a FishMaryland Master Angler award. Photo courtesy of Tim Campbell.

Tim Campbell of Phoenix, Baltimore County, has earned a Master Angler Milestone Award under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ FishMaryland program

The award recognizes recreational anglers who legally catch ten different species of fish in Maryland at trophy-size length. Campbell is the fifth Master Angler since the program began, and achieved the award with a confirmed catch of a striped bass on December 21, 2023. Read more…

Maryland’s Primitive Deer Hunt Days Run Feb. 1 – 3

Final Opportunity for Deer Hunters for the 2023-24 Season

Photo of five deer in the snow

Photo by Randall Gornowich, submitted to the 2022 Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces the state’s Primitive Deer Hunt will be open Feb. 1-3 statewide. Hunters with a valid hunting license, or those exempt from the hunting license requirement, may use primitive bows or muzzleloaders to hunt sika and white-tailed deer during these days.

Primitive hunting devices are defined as long bows, recurve bows, flintlock, or sidelock percussion muzzleloaders. Hunters may not use compound bows, crossbows, drawlocks, and telescopic or other electronic aiming devices. However, fiber optic sights are permitted on otherwise legal primitive bows or muzzleloaders. Read more…

Maryland Fifth Graders Invited to Submit Arbor Day Posters for 2024

Annual contest taking submissions until March 1, 2024

Illustration of a park bench in a wooded area

Addilyn Centineo, of Eldersburg, Carroll County won first place in the 2023 Arbor Day Poster Contest, with a prize of 15 trees to her school for planting.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Forest Conservancy District Boards invite all Maryland fifth graders in private and public schools to participate in the annual Arbor Day Poster Contest.

The theme for 2024 is: “Trees Are Terrific…in All Shapes and Sizes!” to celebrate the importance of diversity of tree species within a community.

All entries must be delivered to a local Maryland Forest Service office by noon on March 1, 2024. Read more…

Prescribed Burn Brings New Life to Frederick Forest

DNR oversees dozens of controlled fires annually to manage Maryland woodland areas

DNR forester Sean Weaver, left, walks along the fireline shortly after the start of a prescribed burn in Frederick. Photo by Joe Zimmermann

It was a chilly morning in the Frederick Watershed and the woods were quiet and peaceful. Without the sound of even a passing bird, a stillness filled the air between the nearly bare trees.

But at the intersection of two rocky roads deep in the watershed, there was a growing commotion. Red hats, yellow vests, and blue suits appeared through the vegetation. A fleet of pickups and fuel trucks and UTVs lined the forest edge. Dozens of people were gathering and prepping equipment for the day. They were about to set the woods on fire. Read more…

Friends of Maryland State Parks Provides Funds for Projects Through ‘Small Grants, Big Impact!’

Program in its fourth year and supports more than 20 projects statewide

Photo of Maryland Park Service truck in a park

An innovative approach to litter prevention at Janes Island State Park is among the Maryland Park Service initiatives funded by ‘Small Grants, Big Impact!’ Photo by Anthony Burrows, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Friends of Maryland State Parks recently awarded 24 grants totaling $41,798 to Maryland State Parks statewide through the advocacy organization’s program, “Small Grants, Big Impact!” 

These funds will enable staff to collaborate with community partners to provide information on Maryland’s cultural history, replace unsafe bridges and puncheons, provide water safety resources, and promote recycling and stewardship on our public lands.  Read more…

Harford County Angler Catches Maryland State Record Rock Bass

Long-standing record is tied with 1.0-pound fish caught in Susquehanna River

Photo of man holding a fish

Photo courtesy of Thomas Over.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recognizes Thomas Over Jr. of Darlington as a new state record holder for rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) in the Chesapeake Division. Over caught a 1.0-pound rock bass January 6 in the lower Susquehanna River.

Over was fishing with a light spinning rod and jigging for yellow perch when he hooked the large rock bass.  Read more…

Maryland to Plant 41 Acres with Juvenile Oysters in Anne Arundel County with Mitigation Funds from 2022 Ever Forward Ship Grounding

Photo of large container ship

Photo courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will plant about 147 million oyster spat, or juvenile oysters, on 41 acres in Anne Arundel County waters with mitigation funds from the 2022 grounding of M/V Ever Forward on an upper Chesapeake Bay oyster bar. 

On March 13, 2022, the 1,095-foot Ever Forward container ship ran aground inside Natural Oyster Bar 4-2. The bow of the ship, which draws 40 feet of water, became stuck at a depth of 18 feet. The Ever Forward was refloated on April 17, 2022, after a month of intensive dredging and multiple extraction attempts. 

Last year, the state required the ship’s owner, Evergreen Marine Corporation, to pay DNR $676,200 to fund oyster bar seeding mitigate the event’s impacts. DNR has now selected the first area that it will target with this funding. Read more…

Maryland Holding First Youth-Only Trout Fishing Day on March 23

Photo of girl in a stream holding a trout

Young angler with a trout, photo by Christopher Wike.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering the state’s first-ever Youth-Only Trout Fishing Day for children under 16 years of age on March 23, one week before opening day for all trout anglers. Read more…

Secretary’s Message – January 2024

Welcoming a New Year to expand on our successes at the Department of Natural Resources

Photo of sunrise over water next to a lighthouse

Photo by by Erin Pant, submitted to the Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

We’re kicking off 2024 on a hopeful note at the Department of Natural Resources thanks to positive signs in two important indicators for the health of the Chesapeake Bay–dissolved oxygen and oysters. 

One of the primary indicators of the Bay’s overall health is the annual hypoxia measurement – conducted by the Department of Natural Resources and our counterparts in Virginia. Scientists monitor what is called the “dead zone,” which are areas of the Bay with dissolved oxygen levels so low that underwater life such as crabs, fish, and oysters can’t survive. In 2023, hypoxic water in the Bay was measured to be about 0.52 cubic miles, nearly half the historic average of 0.97 cubic miles, and the smallest on record since Bay-wide monitoring began in 1985 Read more…

Chesapeake Bay 2023 Fall Oyster Survey Records Outstanding Spatfall

Strong oyster reproduction observed in Maryland waters

Photo of three people examining oyster shells on a boat.

DNR Secretary Josh Kurtz joins Fishing and Boating Services staff analyze to oyster spat during the fall survey. Photo by Robert Bussell, Maryland DNR.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Oyster Survey recorded a remarkable year for juvenile oysters in Maryland waters, finding both prolific numbers and a widespread distribution throughout many regions of the Chesapeake Bay.

The survey’s spatfall intensity index, a measure of reproductive success and potential population growth for oysters, was 86.8 spat, or juvenile oysters, per bushel, nearly four times the 39-year median of 23.6 spat per bushel and the fifth highest in that timeframe.

“We have not recorded this extent of oyster spat recruitment in the fall survey in a generation,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz. “Both the quantity and the wide distribution of spat throughout the Bay, including several areas where our biologists have rarely observed spat in nearly 40 years of results, are outstanding. We plan to build on these natural spatsets by continuing oyster restoration efforts and promoting aquaculture to bolster the overall oyster population.” Read more…

DNR Asks Residents to Share Flood Photos on MyCoast Maryland

Easy-to-use app helps government officials understand extent of flooding and then plan response and mitigation efforts

Ewell Methodist Church and Parsonage on Smith Island

A rain storm’s a-brewing and Maryland needs your help to document flooding.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently launched the new MyCoast Maryland app that enables people to easily upload photos of flood conditions in their neighborhood during or after major rain events and tidal flooding.

The flood photos that residents share on the app help scientists at DNR and other government agencies in Maryland understand the extent of flooding in certain areas, compare pre-storm or pre-high tide flooding estimates with actual effects, and plan long-term mitigation projects to reduce flooding. Read more…

Maryland Hosts Waterfowl Hunting Day for Youth, Veterans, and Military on Feb. 3

Photo of two geese in flight

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

Maryland’s youth hunters, veterans, and military personnel can experience the excitement of this season’s second special waterfowl hunting day; Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. A previous hunting day was held in November.  Read more…

Maryland’s 2024 Winter Turkey Season Opens Jan. 18

Photo of four turkeys in a field

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

Maryland hunters who did not harvest a turkey during the fall will have another chance to do so during winter season, which runs statewide from Jan. 18-20. Hunting hours are from one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. The bag limit is one turkey of either sex. Read more…

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