Maryland Manual On-Line -



[photo, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland] Created in 1969, the Department of Natural Resources works to ensure the preservation, development, wise use, and enjoyment of Maryland's natural resources for the greatest benefit to the State and its citizens. The Department coordinates all natural resources activities within the State and reviews and evaluates all natural resources policies, plans, programs, and practices of county, State, regional and federal agencies and institutions.

The Department is organized through three main programs: Aquatic Resources; Land Resources; and Mission Support.

Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, March 2009. Photo by Diane P. Frese.


Tawes State Office Building, C-4, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent, the Secretary of Natural Resources heads the Department. The Secretary serves on the Governor's Executive Council, the BayStat Subcabinet, the Maryland Integrated Map Executive Committee; and the Smart Growth Subcabinet. In addition, the Secretary chairs the Task Force to Study Enhancing Boating and the Boating Industry in Maryland; the Governor's Council on the Chesapeake Bay (Governor's Chesapeake Bay Cabinet), the Cliff Erosion Steering Committee, the Coast Smart Council; the Rural Legacy Board, and the Scenic and Wild Rivers Review Board, and co-chairs the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, and the Executive Committee for Dredged Material Management Plans. The Secretary also serves on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation; the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Board; the Governor's Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture; the Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee; the Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee; the Blue Crab Task Force; the Chesapeake Bay Commission; the Chesapeake Bay Trust; the Climate Change Commission; the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays; the Maryland Green Building Council; the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee; the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority; the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee; the Invasive Plants Advisory Committee; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee for Minority Affairs; the Council on Open Data; the Patuxent River Commission; the Pesticide Advisory Committee; the Potomac River Fisheries Commission; the Rural Maryland Council; the Seafood Marketing Advisory Commission; the State Soil Conservation Committee; the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission; the Transportation Enhancements Program Executive Committee; and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

The Office of Communications started as Public Communications Services under Management and Services and reorganized under the Deputy Secretary as the Public Communications Office in 1995. In August 2003, it was renamed the Office of Communications and Marketing, and assumed its current name in August 2007.


Tawes State Office Building, C-3, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

The Natural Resources Police Force is Maryland's oldest State law enforcement agency and one of the oldest conservation law enforcement agencies in the country. Its origins trace to 1868, when the State Oyster Police Force was authorized to enforce oyster laws. As the State Fishery Force, it reorganized in 1874 under the Commissioner of Fisheries and, in 1880, under the Board of Public Works. In 1922, the Force became part of the Conservation Department and was renamed Maryland Patrol and Inspection Fleet. Marine enforcement by the Natural Resources Police Force originated from responsibilities of the early fisheries fleets.

For wildlife and inland fisheries, the creation of the post of State Game Warden in 1896 provided a system for uniformly enforcing conservation laws across Maryland. After the Warden's appointment, government programs were initiated that still define the inland enforcement duties of the Natural Resources Police Force. In 1922, the State Game Warden joined the Conservation Department along with the State Fishery Force (renamed the Maryland Patrol and Inspection Fleet). In 1939, the Conservation Department split into two departments: the Department of Tidewater Fisheries, and the Game and Inland Fish Commission (later the Department of Game and Inland Fish). The Marine Enforcement Fleet then was named the Division of Inspection and Patrol. Responsible for enforcing the Maryland Boat Act of 1960, it became the Maryland State Marine Police in 1962 and was made part of the Department of Chesapeake Bay Affairs in 1964. That department and the Department of Game and Inland Fish were abolished in 1969 when the Department of Natural Resources was created. In 1972, the Maryland State Marine Police was renamed the Natural Resources Police Force (Chapter 348, Acts of 1972). From 1992 to 1995, the Force was part of Resource Management. The Force transferred to Public Lands in 1995, to Resource Conservation in 2003, and to the Office of Secretary in May 2007.

Throughout Maryland, the Natural Resources Police Force has statewide authority to enforce conservation, boating and criminal laws. Since April 22, 2005, through a Memorandum of Agreement signed with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Force also can arrest violators of federal safety or security zones, further enhancing maritime security operations.

The Force provides maritime and rural search and rescue services. Through enforcement of hunting and wildlife conservation laws, the Force provides the primary law enforcement and emergency services for some remote areas in Maryland. The Force is responsible for all law enforcement within State parks, State forests, wildlife management areas, and all public lands owned and operated by the Department. Also, the Force is the lead agency for maritime homeland security on State waterways.

State laws and regulations on boating, commercial seafood harvesting and sport fishing, waterways pollution, and wildlife conservation are enforced by the Force, as are general criminal laws. The Force inspects boats for violations of conservation and boating laws, and inspects seafood processing houses and trucks carrying seafood cargo. It arrests and issues warnings to violators. The Force also investigates boating accidents and reports them to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Educational programs on boating and hunting safety are conducted by the Force. In addition, the Force operates the Natural Resources Police Academy at Matapeake and a central maintenance and supply facility (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 1-201 through 1-210).

The Force is organized into the Office of Administrative Services; two Field Force Bureaus; the Special Operations Division; and the Support Services Bureau.


Under the Boating Administration, the Office of Administrative Services started as the Administration Program. The Program reorganized as the Administrative Services Bureau under the Natural Resources Police Force in 1995, was renamed Management Services Bureau in 1998, and became Office of Management Services in April 2000. It adopted its present name in April 2003.

The Office is responsible for budget, fiscal and personnel management; public information; and management information services. The Office also coordinates the removal of abandoned boats from Maryland waterways.


Wildlife, fish and boating laws are enforced by two regional Field Force Bureaus, which also conduct search and rescue missions. Field Force officers are cross-trained for assignment to either marine or inland patrols. They routinely perform police duties involving criminal violations, such as possession of controlled dangerous substances, theft, assault, fraud, manslaughter, and homicide. Operating out of four regional centers, the Field Force officers patrol with a fleet of 30 large inboard vessels, 89 smaller outboard vessels, and 100 vehicles.


The Special Operations Division originated as the Investigation and Special Services Division, and became the Investigation Division before reorganizing in 2007 as the Special Operations Division. The Division briefly reformed as the Homeland Security and Special Operations Division in August 2009 before reverting back to its present name later that year.

The Division is responsible for homeland security, and special operations, such as criminal investigations, covert operations, underwater operations, and canine operations.

As the Homeland Security Division, the Homeland Security Unit organized within the Natural Resources Police Force in April 2003, and adopted its present name in January 2007. Since August 2009, the Unit has been under the Homeland Security and Special Operations Division.

The Unit assesses the resources and capabilities of the Natural Resources Police Force; identifies potential terrorist targets; and works to improve training, financing, communications, and other factors affecting the Force's ability to respond to homeland security threats and incidences.


The Support Services Bureau originated as the Planning and Education Bureau in 1995. It reformed as the Administrative Services Bureau in 1998, as the Bureau of Administrative Services in 2000, and as the Support Services Bureau in April 2003.

The Bureau educates the public about outdoor safety, ethics, and the use of resources. For Natural Resources Police officers, the Bureau provides specialized training, both entry-level and in-service.

Under the Bureau are three agencies: Boat Excise Tax and Investigations; the Records and Communications Unit; and the Support Services Division.

The Support Services Division oversees hunter education services, boating education services, and the Natural Resources Police Training Academy. To hunters and boaters who complete safety education courses, the Division issues certificates. By law, hunters must have a certificate before they can buy a hunting license. Also, any person born after July 1, 1972, must have a certificate to operate a registered or documented vessel.

[photo, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland]


Tawes State Office Building, C-4, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, August 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

When the interstate Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1987, Aquatic Resources originated from Maryland programs formed to protect and restore the Bay. At that time, the Chesapeake Bay Program Office was created within the Department of Natural Resources, under the Office of Secretary. Also, at the Department of the Environment, Bay activities began with the Chesapeake Bay and Special Projects Program, reorganized as the Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Administration in 1994. The Administration transferred in 1995 to the Department of Natural Resources and merged with the Chesapeake Bay Program Office to form Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Programs. In 1995, Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Programs assumed functions of three Tidewater Administration divisions: Coastal and Watershed Resources; Chesapeake Bay Research and Monitoring; and Power Plant and Environmental Review. In August 2003, it restructured as Chesapeake Bay Programs. In a departmental reorganization of May 2007, it reformed as Aquatic Resources.

Aquatic Resources leads State efforts to protect and restore Chesapeake Bay. It oversees Boating Services, the Chesapeake and Coastal Service, the Fisheries Service, and the Resource Assessment Service, and is aided by the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays, and the Integrated Policy and Review Unit.


In June 2013, the Integrated Policy and Review Unit formed under Aquatic Resources. The Unit works to develop and implement systemic, sustainable and consistent environmental policies and project reviews to better protect Maryland's natural resources.

The Unit works through two divisions: Project Review, and Resource Policy.


Boating Services was created in May 2007 under Aquatic Resources. Many responsibilities of Boating Services previously were assigned to the Boating Administration, which functioned from 1988 to 1995. When the Boating Administration was abolished in 1995, some responsibilities transferred to the Natural Resources Police Force, the Land and Water Conservation Service, and the Licensing and Registration Service.

Three divisions are overseen by Boating Services: Boating Program Implementation; Clean Waterways, Facilities, and Regulations; and Hydrographic Operations. The office also is aided by the Maryland Boat Act Advisory Committee.


Established in May 2007, Boating Program Implementation oversees Derelict Boats and Debris, and the Marine Sewage Pumpout Program.


Clean Waterways, Facilities, and Regulations began as Boating Facility and Access Planning in May 2007 and was restructured under its present name in July 2013. It administers State and local grants and loans for dredging, boat ramps, marine facility development, and other projects that improve State waterways for the boating public. This office also is responsible for the Clean Marinas Program, Facilities Management, and the Maryland Water Trails Program.


Hydrographic Operations maintains vessels and equipment, and operates three large DNR vessels: the Millard Tawes, the A. V. Sandusky, and the J. C. Widener, as well as other smaller boats. In specially designated or restricted areas, the Division provides icebreaking services in the winter and sets buoys and other aids to navigation.


In 1988, the Chesapeake and Coastal Service began within the Department of the Environment as the Watershed Nonpoint Source Division under Water Quality Programs of the Water Management Administration. By 1992, the Division was renamed the Watershed Projects Division under the Chesapeake Bay and Special Projects Program. Later that year, it became the Nonpoint Source Assessment and Policy Program under the Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Management Administration. Reformed as the Watershed Management Program in 1994, it transferred to the Department of Natural Resources in 1995. There, it reorganized in 1995 as the Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Service. That same year, Chesapeake Conservation Education formed, and reorganized as Education, Bay Policy, and Growth Management in 1997. In August 2003, the Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Service combined with Education, Bay Policy, and Growth Management to form Watershed Services. In May 2007, Watershed Services became part of Aquatic Resources, and in July 2007 was renamed Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Services. In an October 2011 restructuring, it adopted its present name.

The Chesapeake and Coastal Service develops and helps implement watershed management strategies and projects to restore and protect the ecosystems of Chesapeake Bay and its watersheds. Programs derive from Maryland's commitment under the Chesapeake Bay Agreements of 1983 and 1987 to restore and protect the Bay, particularly its finfish, shellfish, wildlife, and other aquatic life. Departmental responsibilities under the Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act are coordinated by the Chesapeake and Coastal Service (Chapter 437, Acts of 1992).

Within the Chesapeake and Coastal Service are the Management Services Division and two deputy directorates: Restoration, Finance, and Policy; and Science, Stewardship, and Assessment. The Service is also assisted by the Coastal and Watershed Resources Advisory Committee.


Restoration, Finance, and Policy originated as Chesapeake Bay Policy Coordination and reformed as the Chesapeake Bay Program Division in September 2003. It reorganized as Chesapeake and Coastal Programs in May 2007, and as Restoration, Finance, and Policy in 2014.

This office develops Department policy on Bay-related issues, drawing on departmental expertise and advice from citizens and signatories to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. It is responsible for Maryland's representation on the Living Resources Subcommittee of the Chesapeake Executive Council, an interstate agency. Under the 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement, that subcommittee develops and implements plans to protect and restore habitats, ecosystems, and populations of the Bay's living resources.

Restoration, Finance, and Policy directs three divisions: Chesapeake and Coastal Policy; Habitat Restoration and Conservation; and Restoration Financing.

Conservation Education and Stewardship began as Watershed Stewardship, became Conservation Education in 2007, and reorganized under its present name in 2014. For the Department, it coordinates programs, publications, and materials for conservation education to promote environmental awareness in Maryland.

Coastal Zone Management Program. The Division administers the Program with grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Program is based upon the laws, regulations, authorities, expertise, and perspectives of six State Departments (Agriculture, Budget and Management, Health and Mental Hygiene, Housing and Community Development, Natural Resources, and Transportation); sixteen coastal counties and Baltimore City; two regional planning agencies; and numerous federal agencies.

Public Involvement Program. This program seeks help from civic and community associations, environmental groups, businesses, and local governments to protect and restore watersheds.

Tributary Strategies formed in 1992 under the Coastal and Watershed Resources Division, which became the Coastal Zone Management Division in 1995. The program reorganized in 1997 under Education, Bay Policy, and Growth Management. In May 2007, it moved under Community and Local Government Services, and in 2014 transferred to Restoration, Finance, and Policy.

The Tributary Strategies Program coordinates the development and implementation of nutrient reduction strategies for each of the Bay's major tributaries, as specified by the 1992 amendments to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.


Science, Stewardship, and Assessment originated as Ecosystem Restoration Services within Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Services in July 2007, and reformed as Science, Stewardship, and Assessment in 2014.

This office is responsible for three divisions: Coastal and Marine Assessment; Conservation Education and Stewardship; and Geospatial Information and Analysis.

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve System - Maryland. This program was created in accordance with the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. Representative estuarine systems, including valuable wetland habitat, are protected by the System for use as natural field laboratories. The System maintains three reserves on Chesapeake Bay: Otter Point Creek Component, Harford County; Monie Bay Component, Somerset County; and Jug Bay Component, Anne Arundel County. Each reserve is a field laboratory supporting several monitoring, research and educational programs.


Geospatial Information and Analysis originated in 1995, when geographic information systems from the Water Resources Administration, the Tidewater Administration, and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission consolidated to form the Geographic Information Services Division under the Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Service. In September 2003, it reformed as the Watershed Information Services Division under Watershed Services. In July 2007, it restructured as Natural Resources Information Services under Chesapeake and Coastal Watershed Services, and under its present name in 2014.


1804 West St., Suite 100, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays was created as the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission within the Department of Natural Resources in 1984 (Chapter 794, Acts of 1984). At that time, the General Assembly found that "there is a critical and substantial State interest for the benefit of current and future generations in fostering more sensitive development activity in a consistent and uniform manner along shoreline areas of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries." (Code Natural Resources Article, sec. 8-1801).

Initially, the Commission's charge was to adopt necessary criteria and regulations to minimize the adverse effects of human activity on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and guide future development. For the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, these criteria and regulations were completed in 1985. From 1985 to 1990, the Commission reviewed and approved local critical area plans for those jurisdictions required by law to have such a plan.

Also of critical concern, Maryland's coastal bays were recognized as estuaries of national significance in 1996, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added them to the National Estuary Program. Thereafter, the General Assembly extended protection of critical areas to lands around the Atlantic coastal bays of Assawoman, Isle of Wight, Sinepuxent, Newport, and Chincoteague in 2002, and renamed the Commission as the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays to reflect its added responsibilities (Chapter 433, Acts of 2002).

As originally defined, the Critical Area encompassed the shores of Chesapeake Bay, including roughly 10% of Maryland's land, about 680,000 acres. In 2002, the General Assembly focused on the Atlantic coastal bays as well, adding approximately 30,000 more acres; and establishing a second critical area: the Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area (Chapter 433, Acts of 2002). Sixteen counties, Baltimore City, and forty-seven municipalities now have land within these critical areas.

Today, the Commission is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed changes to local critical area plans; proposals by a State or local government agency which might lead to major development within a critical area, and State projects on State-owned land within a critical area.

Climate Change. In December 2012, the Governor directed the Commission to evaluate existing regulations and policies for State Agency Actions Resulting in Development on State-Owned Lands. The Commission is to consider the adoption of new or revised provisions that address climate change and the risk of sea-level rise and other extreme weather-related impacts.

Chesapeake Bay & Atlantic Coastal Critical Areas Protection Program. The law governing the Program requires that development projects within 1,000 feet of the tidal influence of the Chesapeake Bay meet standards designed to mitigate adverse effects on water quality, and fish, plant and animal habitat. Additionally, a buffer of at least 100 feet landward (from the mean high water line of tidal rivers, tributary, streams, and tidal wetlands) must be maintained wherever possible.

Each jurisdiction within a critical area develops and implements a plan to achieve the objectives of the Program, which is subject to review and approval by the Commission. Through their approved local critical area programs, local governments oversee implementation of the law. From the Commission, a local authority may request assistance in an enforcement action, or ask that the Commission chair refer an enforcement action to the Attorney General (Chapter 526, Acts of 2004; Code Natural Resources Article, sec. 8-1808.5). Annually, money is allocated in the State Budget for grants to assist local jurisdictions in implementing their programs.

In 2008, legislation strengthened the Program by giving the Commission more regulatory authority; updating critical area boundaries through the State Base Map Project, enhancing buffer and water quality protection; ensuring that growth allocation for new development is consistent with plans, environmental protection policy, and environmental impact processes; and toughening enforcement and variance provisions (Chapter 119, Acts of 2008).

Periodically, the Commission meets with the General Assembly's Joint Committee on the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Areas to review the Program.

The Commission has twenty-nine members. Twenty-two are appointed by the Governor to four-year terms with Senate advice and consent. Of these, thirteen are elected or appointed local officials. Seven members serve ex officio. The Governor names the chair (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 8-1801 through 8-1817).


The Fisheries Service plants oyster shells for propagation, transplants seed oysters on public oyster bars, and monitors blue crab movement to gauge fluctuations in annual harvest. The Service studies young fish annually to determine reproductive success; monitors anadromous fish reproduction and harvests; and supports striped bass hatcheries for research and restoration. Permits for aquaculture and scientific collections of fish and shellfish are issued by the Service, which also investigates disease and parasite infestations, develops and analyzes statistics for management decisions, and formulates management plans. Within existing habitat, the Service strives to provide maximum opportunities for public fishing while preserving and enhancing natural resources in Maryland (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-1209).

The Fisheries Service started in 1995 under the Resource Management Service. It formed from the merger of the Freshwater Fisheries Division and the Tidal Fisheries Division of the former Tidewater Administration.

Freshwater Fisheries Division. The Freshwater Fisheries Division organized in 1991. The Division protected, preserved, and restored the freshwater fish resources of Maryland. Through administration of the Fisheries Management and Protection Fund, the Division conducted scientific investigations and environmental review, propagated fish, and managed the nontidal finfish of the State.

Tidal Fisheries Division. The Tidal Fisheries Division traced its origin to the Commissioners of Fisheries created in 1874 (Chapter 150, Acts of 1874). In 1916, functions of the Commissioners of Fisheries were assigned to the Conservation Commission, which oversaw fish hatcheries (Chapter 682, Acts of 1916). The Conservation Department assumed fisheries duties in 1922 and was replaced in 1939 by the Department of Game and Inland Fish (Chapter 354, Acts of 1939). The Department was superseded in 1941 by the Department of Tidewater Fisheries, which became the Department of Chesapeake Bay Affairs in 1964 (Chapter 508, Acts of 1941; Chapter 82, Acts of 1964). That department, in turn, was replaced by the Fish and Wildlife Administration in 1970 and the Fisheries Administration in 1972 (Chapter 252, Acts of 1970; Chapter 348, Acts of 1972). In 1979, the Fisheries Administration reformed as the Tidal Fisheries Division of the Tidewater Administration. By 1984, the Division was renamed the Fisheries Division and, in 1993, it resumed the name, Tidal Fisheries Division. The Division in 1995 became part of the Fish, Heritage, and Wildlife Administration. Later that year, it joined the Fisheries Service. The Division preserved, enhanced, developed, and oversaw use of fishery resources in Maryland.

In 1995, functions of the Freshwater Fisheries Division and the Tidal Fisheries Division were assumed by the Fisheries Service. The Fisheries Service transferred from Resource Conservation to Aquatic Resources in May 2007.

In July 2011, aquaculture was redefined as an agricultural and fisheries management activity, and responsibility for aquaculture and seafood marketing transferred to the Fisheries Service in July 2011 (Chapter 411, Acts of 2011).

The Fisheries Service works through ten divisions: Aquaculture; Communications and Outreach; Cooperative Management Investigations and Fisheries Health; Estuarine and Marine Fisheries; Fisheries Marketing; Hatcheries; Inland Fisheries; Fiscal and Management Services; and Shellfish.


The General Assembly in July 2011 redefined aquaculture as both an agricultural and a fisheries management activity, and made the Department of Natural Resources the lead agency for promoting, marketing, and coordinating aquaculture and its products. Primary responsibility for issuing State aquaculture leases, and enforcing the laws, rules, and regulations for aquaculture also transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Natural Resources (Chapter 411, Acts of 2011).

In July 2011, the Aquaculture and Permitting Division formed under the Fisheries Service. At that time, the Aquaculture Coordinator, the Aquaculture Coordinating Council, and the Aquaculture Review Board transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Natural Resources (Chapter 411, Acts of 2011). In August 2012, the Division reformed as the Aquaculture Division.

The Aquaculture Coordinator heads the Division, which is aided by the Aquaculture Coordinating Council, and the Aquaculture Review Board.


Under the Fisheries Service, the Communications and Outreach Division began as Constituent and Development Services, became the Communications and Marketing Division in March 2008, and was made responsible for Seafood Marketing in July 2011. The Division assumed its present name in August 2012.

The Division oversees the Maryland Artificial Reef Committee, the Seafood Marketing Advisory Commission, the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission, and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission.


904 South Morris St., Oxford, MD 21654

In 1960, the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries established the Oxford Laboratory to investigate oyster diseases which struck Chesapeake Bay in the late 1950s. Originally a federal research center, the Laboratory in 1987 became a joint research and monitoring facility of the Department of Natural Resources, and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. After renovation and expansion, the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory was renamed the Sarbanes Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in February 1999 to honor Maryland's former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, a long-term mentor and supporter. Oversight for the Laboratory moved to the Estuarine and Marine Fisheries Division of the Fisheries Service in April 2004. In July 2011, the Laboratory became the Fish Health, Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles Division, and in August 2012 assumed its present name.

Located on 11.5 acres along the Tred Avon River in Talbot County, the Laboratory is a complex of laboratories and experimental ponds with an extensive scientific library. Laboratory technicians diagnose and monitor diseases of shellfish, finfish, and wildlife in Maryland. A unit of the National Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network also is based here.


To restore Atlantic sturgeon, American shad, and hickory shad in the Chesapeake Bay, the Estuarine and Marine Fisheries Division uses hatchery-produced fish. The Division improves recreational fisheries with hatchery-produced sportfish; maintains 5,000 acres of oyster reef sanctuary; and issues aquaculture permits and oyster bottom leases.

The Division is responsible for six programs: Analysis and Assessment; Blue Crab; Chesapeake Finfish; Coastal Fisheries; Data Management and Quota Monitoring; and Striped Bass. Serving the Division are the Blue Crab Task Force, the Coastal Fisheries Advisory Committee, and the Oyster Advisory Commission.


In April 2004, the Inland Fisheries Management Division formed from the Resource Management Division, and was renamed the Inland Fisheries Division in August 2012.

Maryland's inland fisheries resources are monitored and assessed by the Division which helps develop a management framework for both the conservation and equitable use of those resources.

The Division manages Maryland's nontidal fisheries resources, covering fourteen gamefish species, fifteen panfish species, 820 miles of wild trout streams, 89 impoundments, and 214,000 acres of tidal-influenced freshwater habitat. Species include largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, Northern pike, tiger muskellunge, and catfish. In the Patuxent, Choptank and Patapsco Rivers, the Division works to restore two species of shad to naturally reproducing levels.

Two programs are overseen by the Division: Operations, and Planning.


First known as the Policy and Regulatory Division, the Policy and Planning Division became Legislation, Regulation, and Outreach in 1998, and reverted to Policy and Fisheries Development in July 2000. In April 2004, it became the Policy and Regulatory Division, and in 2010 the Legislation, Regulation, and Habitat Division. It adopted its present name in August 2012.

Commercial and recreational fisheries are regulated by the Division, while management plans for fish, crabs, oysters, and clams are researched, developed, and implemented. The Division also drafts legislation, formulates policy, and conducts public hearings and outreach programs. Additionally, it administers a limited entry system for apprenticeships in the commercial fisheries.

The Division is responsible for two programs: Fisheries Habitat and Ecosystems; and Fisheries Management Plans and Fish Passage.


Under the Shellfish Division, the Chesapeake Shellfish Program restores oyster populations and habitat in the Chesapeake Bay. The Deal Island Hatchery and the Piney Point Aquaculture Center produce hatchery oysters to stock sanctuaries. The Program plants shell and seed oysters, both for commercial harvesting and to restore the health of the Bay, and monitors oyster stocks and evaluates restoration methods. The Program also maintains and monitors clam and scallop stocks.

The Division implements the Chesapeake Shellfish Program through three units: Ecological Restoration; Monitoring and Assessment; and Public Oyster Fishery.


Tawes State Office Building, C-2, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Origins of the Resource Assessment Service trace to 19th-century legislation safeguarding Maryland clams, oysters, and fish. Many of its later duties stem from the Department of Tidewater Fisheries created under the Board of Natural Resources in 1941 (Chapter 508, Acts of 1941). That department reorganized as the Department of Chesapeake Bay Affairs in 1964, and was placed under the Department of Natural Resources in 1969 (Chapter 82, Acts of 1964; Chapter 154, Acts of 1969). In 1972, the Department merged with the Fish and Wildlife Administration to form the Fisheries Administration (Chapter 348, Acts of 1972). Duties of the Fisheries Administration were assigned to the Tidal Fisheries Division in 1979, when the Division joined with the Coastal Zone Management Program, and Waterway Improvement to form the Tidewater Administration (Chapter 601, Acts of 1979). Reorganized in 1988, the Administration was made part of Resource Management in 1992. As the Resource Assessment Administration, it was assigned to Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Programs in 1995. Later that year, it became the Resource Assessment Service. In May 2007, it transferred to Aquatic Resources.

The Service collects and interprets scientific data to help restore, protect, and manage Maryland tidal and nontidal ecosystems. The Service oversees the work of the Maryland Geological Survey, and four divisions: Monitoring and Nontidal Assessment; Power Plant Assessment; Support Services; and Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment.


Kenneth N. Weaver Building, 2300 St. Paul St., Suite 440, Baltimore, MD 21218 - 5210
[photo, Kenneth N. Weaver Building, 2300 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland] In Maryland, the first State Geological Survey operated from 1834 to 1841. Fifty-five years later, the State Geological and Economic Survey was established in 1896 (Chapter 51, Acts of 1896). The work of the Survey was placed under the Department of Geology, Mines, and Water Resources of the Board of Natural Resources in 1941 (Chapter 508, Acts of 1941). In 1964, the Maryland Geological Survey superseded the Department of Geology, Mines, and Water Resources (Chapter 73, Acts of 1964). The Survey became part of the Department of Natural Resources in 1969 (Chapter 154, Acts of 1969). Within the Department, it was placed under Resource Management in 1992 and under the Resource Assessment Service in 1995.

Kenneth N. Weaver Building, 2300 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland, April 2007. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The Survey researches the geology, water and mineral resources of the State so this knowledge can be applied to resolve practical problems related to environmental and natural resources. Publication of maps and technical reports are the primary means of relaying this information to the public, private industry, and local, State and federal government agencies. Periodically, the Survey publishes County Reports, County and Quadrangle Atlases, Reports of Investigations, Basic Data Reports, Bulletins, Educational Series, and Information Circulars. The Survey also publishes county topographic and geologic maps, a State geologic map, and other maps and charts.

Coastal and estuarine geology related to erosion and sedimentation in the Chesapeake Bay and along the ocean shoreline are studied by the Survey. As part of its applied earth science research on the Bay, the Survey was one of the principal investigators on the Chesapeake Bay Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Survey's work is carried out by three projects: Coastal and Estuarine Geology; Environmental Geology and Mineral Resources; and Hydrogeology and Hydrology.

The Director is appointed by the Governor upon recommendation of the Secretary of Natural Resources (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 2-201 through 2-203).

Under the Survey are two projects: Coastal and Environmental Geology, and Hydrogeology and Hydrology. The Survey also is assisted by the Commission of the Maryland Geological Survey, the Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee, and the Maryland Water Monitoring Council.

The Coastal and Environmental Geology Project originated from two earlier projects. It started from the Shore Erosion Investigation Program, which organized in 1971 as the Coastal and Estuarine Geology Project. Thereafter, its second source - the Environmental Geology and Mineral Resources Project - was created in 1972 from the merger of two programs: Geologic Investigations and Topographic Maps. In September 2007, the Costal and Estuarine Geology Project combined with the Environmental Geology and Mineral Resources Project to form the Coastal and Environmental Geology Project.

Project studies provide an earth science framework for managing Maryland's mineral, energy and land resources. The geologic framework and resources of the State's coastal environments, extending from the barrier island of the Atlantic Ocean to the wetlands and shorelines of Chesapeake Bay, also are investigated by the Project. Orthophoto quadrangle maps from aerial photography, combined with historical shoreline erosion maps, provide the basis to evaluate shoreline changes in the Bay region. In addition, the Project monitors the geochemical components and physical features of sediments around the Hart-Miller Island Containment Facility.

Geologic, environmental and topographic maps are made by the Project, which investigates mineral and energy resources. Topographic maps created by the Project are used by the public for activities, such as hiking and camping, and by State and local governments for a myriad of technical and planning applications. Geologic maps provide data about the kinds of rocks and the location of minerals (predominantly sand, gravel, stone, and coal) and provide background for the intelligent planning and use of Maryland's geologic natural resources.

In 1975, the Chesapeake Bay Earth Science Study was assigned to the Project. The Study's work determines the distribution of sands, silts, and clays; identifies the patterns of erosion and deposition of these sediments; and analyzes the geochemistry of the pore waters in these sediments.

The Project provides technical advice and assistance for the Geologic Exhibits and Visitors Center at Sideling Hill in western Maryland. Through the library of the Maryland Geological Survey, aerial photos and large-scale maps are available to the public and private industry.

In 1972, the Hydrogeology and Hydrology Project started. In cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Project maintains a statewide water data network and investigates the hydrologic and geologic characteristics of Maryland's water resources.

The surface-water data network provides information on minimum, maximum and average streamflows for the planning of water supply and sewage facilities, water power projects, dams, and bridges. The groundwater network measures water levels in aquifers and selected springs and relates changes in groundwater levels to withdrawals and precipitation. The groundwater network also monitors the hydrologic effects of long-term changes in pumpage, land use patterns, and rainfall.

Special resource assessment studies undertaken with local and county governments consider the extent of saltwater intrusion, aquifer and streamflow characteristics, and water quality and rates of replenishment. They also evaluate water-well sampling for basic chemistry, nutrients, radon, and either industrial organic constituents, or agricultural herbicide or pesticide residues.


The Monitoring and Nontidal Assessment Division began within the Tidewater Administration as the Chesapeake Bay Research and Monitoring Division in 1988. The Division reorganized under its present name within the Resource Assessment Service in 1995.

In Maryland streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay, the Division conducts water monitoring and technical assessments. This work describes the status of ecosystems, contributes to the development of habitat protection and restoration, and measures changes caused by watershed management. The Division consolidates scientific programs of the Resource Assessment Service in the areas of ecological habitat impacts, biological assessments, nonindigenous aquatic species control, and atmospheric deposition.

A 49-foot research vessel, the RV Kerhin, is used for Bay research by the Division. Formerly named the RV Discovery, the vessel was renamed the RV Kerhin after Randall T. Kerhin's death. A world-renowned geologist, Dr. Kerhin's efforts were instrumental in acquiring the boat for research.

Under the Division are six units: Administration; Atmospheric Deposition; Ecological Assessment; Graphics Support; Monitoring; and the Research Vessel Kerhin.


The Power Plant Assessment Division formed in 1971 as the Power Plant Siting Program (Chapter 31, Acts of 1971). By 1986, it was renamed the Power Plant Research Program under the Energy Administration. In 1988, the Program joined the Tidewater Administration as the Power Plant and Environmental Review Division. In 1995, it became the Power Plant Assessment Program and, in 1996, the Power Plant Assessment Division was created to administer the Program.

To evaluate and minimize the environmental effects of power plants without imposing unreasonable costs on the production of electricity, the Division conducts environmental research, monitoring, and assessments. Recommendations necessary to protect the environment, related to the design, construction, and operation of power plants, are made to the Public Service Commission and other regulatory agencies. The Division also helps select sites for dredged materials and monitors the environmental impact of these sites (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 3-301 through 3-307).

The Division is aided by the Power Plant Research Advisory Committee.


Under the Resource Assessment Service, the Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Division assesses the ecological health of Maryland's tidewater ecosystems, identifies the causes of environmental degradation, and seeks solutions. Moreover, the Division manages State long-term databases on water quality and living resources for both tidal and nontidal ecosystems.

Under the Division are five units: Data and Computer Resources; Living Resource Assessment; Quantitative Ecological Assessments; Support Services; and Water and Habitat Quality.

[photo, Tawes State Office Building entrance, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland]


Tawes State Office Building, E-4, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Tawes State Office Building entrance, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, June 1999. Photo by Diane P. Frese.

Land Resources started as Land Enhancement Services in 1995. It became the Land and Water Conservation Service in November 1995, and reorganized as the Capital Grants and Loans Administration in July 2000. In August 2003, it was restructured as Land and Water Conservation with the addition of Engineering and Construction and Resource Planning, both formerly under Public Lands. In August 2004, it was renamed Property Management and Enterprise Activities, and in 2005 became Conservation and Land Management. In February 2006, it became Land and Water Conservation, and in May 2007 was restructured under its present name.

Under the oversight of Land Resources are Engineering and Construction, and the Maryland Environmental Trust. In May 2007, the Maryland Forest Service, the Maryland Park Service, and the Wildlife and Heritage Service also transferred to Land Resources, and in August 2007, Land Acquisition and Planning was created within Land Resources to consolidate those functions.


Tawes State Office Building, D-3, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Engineering and Construction formed as the Capital Development Program, a part of the Capital Programs Administration by 1984. Renamed Engineering Services in 1990, the Program became Engineering and Construction Services in 1991 under Public Lands. In 1992, it was placed under Public Lands and Forestry and, in 1995, as Engineering and Construction transferred to Public Lands. In August 2003, it became part of Land and Water Conservation, and in May 2007 joined Land Resources.

Engineering and Construction provides design and construction services to other Department agencies and local jurisdictions; evaluates facilities in order to plan capital expenditures; and helps preserve historic properties owned by the Department. In 2005, it became responsible for shore erosion control functions, providing technical assistance to property owners who have erosion problems on tidal shorelines or on the banks of fresh water streams. Assistance includes site evaluations, problem assessment, and recommendations for solutions, including financial assistance.

The Ocean City Beach Replenishment and Hurricane Protection Project gives storm protection to Ocean City and maintains the recreation beach used by 4 million visitors annually. The Project was constructed in two phases. Phase I established a wide, gradually rising beach and level berm area. Completed in September 1988, it was funded by State government, Ocean City, and Worcester County. Phase II included 1.8 miles of steel bulkhead protecting the boardwalk and 7 miles of dunes and berm to provide hurricane protection up to the Delaware boundary line. It was funded jointly by the State, Ocean City, Worcester County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

State funding for Phases I and II, and continued maintenance of the Project comes from the Ocean Beach Replenishment Fund, established in 1986 (Chapter 606, Acts of 1986; Code Natural Resources Article, sec. 8-1103). To retain its 100-year storm protection level and ensure federal involvement (in case of a major catastrophe), the beach is to be replenished every four years.


100 Community Place, 1st floor, Crownsville, MD 21032 - 2023

The Maryland Environmental Trust formed in 1967 to conserve, improve, stimulate, and perpetuate the aesthetic, natural, scenic and cultural aspects of the Maryland environment (Chapter 648, Acts of 1967). The Trust also promotes conservation of open space, and appreciation of the environment and its care.

The Trust is responsible for the Land Conservation Center, and four main programs: Conservation Easement, Keep Maryland Beautiful, Local Land Trust Assistance, and Rural Historic Village Protection.

Conservation Easement Program. The Trust seeks donations of conservation easements to the State on certain lands to preserve the land from development. The conservation easement allows landowners to protect their properties permanently from development and, in many cases, to receive substantial tax benefits from their donation of developmental rights. In giving these easements, landowners donate the developmental rights on their property while retaining all other rights of ownership. By the end of 2012, the Trust had secured 1,040 conservation easements on over 129,000 acres.

Keep Maryland Beautiful Program. Established in 1986, the Keep Maryland Beautiful Program focuses on environmental education projects. It supports voluntary activities and achievements by schools, and civic and community organizations.

Local Land Trust Assistance. Conservation easements may be held jointly by the Trust and a local land trust. The Trust assists citizen groups in the formation and operation of local land trusts by offering training, technical assistance, administrative and project grants, and membership in the Maryland Land Trust Alliance.


Tawes State Office Building, E-1, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

With the Forest Conservancy Districts Act, forestry programs started in 1943 under the Board of Natural Resources (Chapter 722, Acts of 1943). When the Department of Natural Resources formed in 1969, the Forest Conservancy Districts Program came under the new Department. In 1971, the Program was renamed the Technical Forestry and Reforestation Program. By 1979, it was called Cooperative Forest Management and, by 1983, the Cooperative Forestry Program. It became Forestry Programs in 1991 and the Forest Service in 1992. The Forest Service became part of the Forest, Wildlife and Heritage Service in 1995. In October 2001, it reformed as a separate unit under the Resource Management Service. In May 2007, it moved to Land Resources.

The Forest Service helps private landowners and municipal and county governments manage their forests and trees. The Service seeks to improve and maintain the economic, aesthetic, recreational and environmental contributions of trees, forests, and forest-related resources for human benefit. Duties include cooperative forest management; urban and community forestry; resource use, planning, and protection; and all matters relating to forestry in the critical areas surrounding Chesapeake Bay. In January 2004, management oversight of four State forests transferred to the Forest Service from the State Forest and Park Service. Currently, the Forest Service is responsible for eight State forests, four demonstration forests, one tree nursery, and the Chesapeake Forest Lands, totalling about 200,000 acres.

To private landowners and local governments, the Forest Service provides forest management expertise. Forest fire prevention and control, insect and disease control, land and watershed management, as well as reforestation, and urban and community forestry constitute the main thrusts of Service programs. Through urban and community forestry, the Service carefully plans development and large-scale forestry projects with developers, builders, architects, and city and county planners. Supervision of utility trimming and municipal tree care is an important part of urban and community forestry. The urban forestry concept includes granting individual shade tree consultations to private landowners, as time permits.

The Forest Service works through three major components: Field Operations; Forest Stewardship and Utilization; and Statewide Programs. It is assisted by the Maryland Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee, and the Sustainable Forestry Council.

Forest Conservancy District Boards function in all twenty-three Maryland counties and Baltimore City. The Boards started as District Forestry Boards in 1943 to assist the Department of Forests and Parks by promoting forest management on privately owned woodlands. Their original goal was to help assure a continuous supply of wood fiber products through scientific forest management.

Today, Forest Conservancy District Boards strive to improve the environment in urban and suburban areas and educate people about the benefits of forests. Board members work closely with foresters throughout the State. The Boards primarily serve as advisory, educational and facilitating bodies. In the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, they approve all forest management plans. The Boards also review proposed laws and represent the interests of forestry with local, State and federal legislatures (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 5-601 through 5-610).

Board members are appointed by the State Forester to three-year terms on recommendation of the local forester in consultation with Board members. The chief requirement for membership is an interest in forestry and a desire to see resources used wisely and renewed. Meeting at least four times a year, each board has five or more members.


6095 Sixty-Foot Road, Parsonsburg, MD 21849

The Chesapeake Forest comprises 59,062 acres in six counties on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore. These include Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. Subdivided into 238 parcels, the land previously belonged to the Chesapeake Forest Products Corporation.

To preserve the land that would become the Chesapeake Forest, the State in 1999 entered into a partnership with The Conservation Fund and Hancock Timber Resources Group. The State purchased 29,000 acres outright, and The Conservation Fund (through the Richard King Mellon Fund) purchased the rest and transferred it to the State in December 2000.

The Conservation Fund acreage came with a three-year sustainable management plan which furthered environmental goals of preserving the land, but also continued to boost local economies through commercial foresting activities. During that transition period, the Department developed its own sustainable forest management plan for the Chesapeake Forest.

To improve the management of private forest lands, the Forest Stewardship Program was begun in 1991 by the Forest Service in cooperation with other natural resource conservation agencies, foresters, and forest advocacy groups. In July 2008, the Program was combined with Forest Marketing and Utilization and assumed its present name.

Forest Stewardship and Utilization prepares Resource Conservation Plans for nonindustrial private forest landowners. Cooperating agencies provide tehnical assistance to private landowners for all their forest resources, including water, recreation, and wildlife. This State program is part of a nationwide effort initiated by the National Association of State Foresters in cooperation with the State and Private Forestry Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forest Stewardship and Utilization also oversees the State Nursery at Preston.

The planning for and management of a community's forest resources to enhance the quality of life is known as urban forestry. The process integrates the environmental, economic, political, historical and social values of the community with the management plan for the urban forest.

Urban Forestry Programs began as the Urban and Community Forestry Program in 1984 (Chapter 543, Acts of 1984). The Program implements ecosystem management strategies to enhance urban forests and associated vegetation. Forest loss and gain by county and by subwatershed are tracked by the Program using the inventory mandated by the Forest Conservation Act of 1991 (Chapter 255, Acts of 1991). The Program also oversees Tree-Mendous Maryland, a cooperative effort by citizens, community groups, and businesses to plant trees on public lands.


Land Acquisition and Planning originated as Land Planning Services under the Capital Programs Administration and reorganized as Greenways and Resource Planning in 1991. Under the Land and Water Conservation Service, it was renamed Resource Planning in 1995 and, in 2000, placed directly under Public Lands. In August 2003, Resource Planning moved to Land and Water Conservation, and in March 2006 became Public Lands Policy and Planning. Under Land Resources in August 2007, Land Acquisition and Planning was created to merge functions from Capital Grants and Loans, and Public Lands Policy and Planning.

To help the Department acquire, develop, and manage public lands and scenic rivers, Land Acquisition and Planning provides planning, mapping, environmental review, and capital budget services. It coordinates the Department's environmental review of all proposals that affect Department lands, including leases, sales, and easements. In support of capital budget requests, planners prepare environmental and growth management assessments. Land Acquisition and Planning also is responsible for the State wildlands preservation system. The system is composed of areas in Maryland designated by the General Assembly as wildlands (Code Natural Resources Article, sec. 5-1203).

Under Land Acquisition and Planning are four agencies: Community Resilience; Land Conservation; Real Property; and Stewardship.


For local governments, Community Resilience helps with land purchases and recreation grants, including local Program Open Space acquisitions. Also, Community Resilience manages the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program, which funds restoration of old parks and creation of new ones in Maryland municipalities.


Land Conservation is responsible for State acquisition of Program Open Space lands, as well as the Rural Legacy Program, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program easements, and federal grants.


Tawes State Office Building, E-3, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Since 1969, Program Open Space has been acquiring outdoor recreation and open space areas for public use (Chapter 403, Acts of 1969). The Program administers funds made available to local communities for open and recreational space by the Outdoor Recreation Land Loan of 1969 and from the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The Program also coordinates the acquisition of Department lands for the use of all departmental agencies (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 5-901 through 5-910).

Under Program Open Space, the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program provides funds to local governments to restore and improve existing parks or create new ones.

In 2001, Program Open Space became responsible for the Department's allocation of funds from the Maryland GreenPrint Program. That program began in 2001 with the Green Infrastructure Assessment, which identified lands with important ecological and biodiversity-related characteristics, such as wetlands, wildlife habitats and migration routes, and contiguous forested areas. The Assessment helped coordinate State efforts to protect ecologically sensitive lands by targeting these green corridors for conservation as part of the GreenPrint Program. Through Program Open Space, the Rural Legacy Program, and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, GreenPrint funds were used to acquire property or property rights that contribute to a statewide Green Infrastructure Network. The Program ended June 30, 2006 (Chapter 570, Acts of 2001).


Property Control began as Mapping and Property Research and became Property Control in January 2002. It researches property records (deeds, surveys, land patents) and prepares project boundary maps for all Department lands. These maps show properties in the acquisition program, as well as properties owned by the Department or not yet acquired. The Section also conducts surveys, and reviews and updates the maps.


In 1997, the Rural Legacy Program was created within the Department of Natural Resources (Chapter 757, Acts of 1997). By protecting Maryland's natural and environmental resources, the Program establishes a rural legacy for future generations. It protects natural, agricultural, forest and environmental resources. To avoid sprawl development and encourage land conservation, the Program also helps local governments and land trusts buy interests in real property in designated rural legacy areas (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 5-9A-01 through 5-9A-09).

As of March 2013, the Program has provided over $235 million to protect 75,498 acres of valuable farmland, forests, and natural areas.

Created in 1997, the Rural Legacy Board administers the Rural Legacy Program.

The Board establishes a method for appraising real property acquired under the Program, and may establish partnerships with other governmental agencies to carry out the Program.

Three members make up the Board: the Secretary of Natural Resources, who serves as chair; the Secretary of Agriculture; and the Secretary of Planning (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 5-9A-03, 5-9A-04).


For Land Acquisition and Planning, Stewardship prioritizes the State's land purchases, and conducts project reviews. Further, it oversees the Resident Curatorship Program, and is responsible for trail planning.

Master plans for new State parks, or for recreational use and modification of existing State parks are formulated by the Planning Program. For proposed new Department areas, the Program conducts detailed property reviews, as well as environmental reviews for many Department projects and lands. The Program also develops master facilities plans for areas without approved master plans.

For the nine rivers of the scenic and wild rivers system, the Program prepares resource management plans to promote the wise use of river, land and water resources and improve resource conservation. Planners work with local citizen advisory boards developing recommendations for local governments on resource use.


Tawes State Office Building, E-3, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Origins of the Maryland Park Service trace to 1906 when John and Robert Garrett of Baltimore gave the State nearly 2,000 acres of land in the Swallow Falls area of Garrett County. The gift came with a proviso that a forestry service be established to protect woodlands and advance forestry. That same year, the Board of Forestry was created (Chapter 294, Acts of 1906).

[photo, Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park, north of Oakland, Maryland] In 1941, the Board of Forestry was replaced by the Department of Forests and Parks under supervision of the Board of Natural Resources (Chapter 508, Acts of 1941). In 1969, the Department of Forests and Parks became part of the Department of Natural Resources (Chapter 154, Acts of 1969). The Department of Forests and Parks in 1972 divided into two units: the Park Service and the Forest Service (Chapter 348, Acts of 1972). These agencies recombined in 1982 as the Forest and Park Service (Chapter 184, Acts of 1982). In 1984, the Forest and Park Service merged with the Wildlife Administration to form the Forest, Park and Wildlife Service (Chapter 136, Acts of 1984). The Department separated the State Forest and Park Service from the Wildlife Program in 1991. In December 2004, the Secretary of Natural Resources renamed the State Forest and Park Service as the Maryland Park Service (Code Natural Resources Article, sec. 1-104(c)).

Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park, north of Oakland (Garrett County), Maryland, October 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, 11704 Fenno Road, Upper Marlboro, Maryland] The Maryland Park Service administers and manages Maryland parks, natural environmental areas, natural resource areas, and marinas. While providing recreation sites, the Service preserves natural resources and ensures multiple uses and a sustained yield of forest resources (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 5-101 through 5-219).

Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, 11704 Fenno Road, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, April 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Cunningham Falls, Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont (Frederick County), Maryland] The Service is responsible for some forty-seven State parks, seven natural environment areas, twenty-four natural resource management areas, and the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary in Prince George's County, a wildlife refuge that encompasses 1,670 acres, and shelters several thousand Canada geese, the largest concentration on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

In January 2015, another park, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, is scheduled to open in Dorchester County. Ground was broken for its Visitor Center in March 2013.

The Service also oversees two State marinas. It operates Somers Cove Marina, home of the Annual Crab Derby in Crisfield. It monitors the contract for managing the Fort Washington Marina at Piscataway Bay off the Potomac River in Prince George's County. Parks and recreation brochures are available at each park and from the Service.

Cunningham Falls, Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont (Frederick County), Maryland, April 2004. Photo by Ann J. Baker.

Under the Maryland Park Service is the Maryland Conservation Corps, State Parks, and Natural Resources Management Areas. Several advisory committees also aid the Service. Among these are the Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board; Gunpowder Falls Local Advisory Board; and the Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden Advisory Board.


Tawes State Office Building, E-3, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Authorized in 1982, the Maryland Conservation Corps was funded and began operation in 1984 (Chapter 297, Acts of 1982; Chapter 510, Acts of 1984). Formerly under the Tidewater Administration, the Corps was assigned to the Forest, Park and Wildlife Service in 1988. Since 1991, the Corps has been under the Maryland Park Service.

Originally, the Corps provided Maryland youths (aged 17 to 24) with summer jobs lasting 6-7 weeks that helped develop and maintain the State's natural resources, projects that conserve or improve natural resources, or enhance and preserve environmentally important lands and waters. Participants may be sponsored by private industry. They must be physically fit and have the desire to work out-of-doors, possibly in remote locations.

Through a federal grant in 1992, the Corps started a year-round program for young adults aged 17 to 25. Forty year-round participants serve eleven months, receive an AmeriCorps living allowance, health-care benefits, and earn an AmeriCorps Education Award worth $5,550. Their on-the-job experience includes environmental programming, construction, trail building, landscaping, wildfire fighting, First Responder Training, and Cold and Swift Water Rescue Training.

Annually, Maryland Conservation Corps members remove some 500 hazardous trees from public lands; assess roughly 300 miles of Chesapeake watershed streams; plant thousands of trees; maintain hundreds of miles of hiking trails; fight forest fires; work on dozens of park improvement projects; assist in ecological studies, contribute to the environmental education of Maryland school children; and provide other conservation and environmental services to government agencies and nonprofit organizations.


The Wildlife and Heritage Service began in 1939 as the Department of Game and Inland Fish. The Department was placed under the Board of Natural Resources in 1941, and the Department of Natural Resources in 1969. The Department of Game and Inland Fish was renamed the Fish and Wildlife Administration in 1970 and became the Wildlife Administration in 1972 (Chapter 252, Acts of 1970; Chapter 348, Acts of 1972). In 1984, the Forest and Park Service merged with the Wildlife Administration to form the Forest, Park and Wildlife Service (Chapter 136, Acts of 1984). Through a reorganization in 1992, the Fish, Heritage, and Wildlife Administration was created under Resource Management. In 1995, under the Resource Management Service, the Administration restructured as the Forest, Wildlife and Heritage Service to oversee the Forest Service, and the Wildlife and Heritage Division. In October 2001, the Forest, Wildlife and Heritage Service divided into two agencies: the Forest Service, and the Wildlife and Heritage Service.

The Wildlife and Heritage Service applies wildlife management techniques to control and assure continuing wildlife, while affording optimum public recreational opportunities compatible with the welfare of wildlife resources. The Service conducts field surveys and research to evaluate public demands on wildlife resources, populations, harvesting parameters, and relevant environmental factors. It plants food and cover vegetation and constructs ponds (primarily waterfowl habitat). It also manages and protects birds, land-based reptiles and amphibians, and mammals. Under its protection are game and nongame species, and threatened and endangered wildlife.

The Service develops and manages forty-two State Wildlife Management Areas (public hunting areas), comprising some 105,204 acres. It also manages and administers recreational use of cooperative wildlife areas and some State park areas.

The Service operates through four major units: Fiscal, Legislation, and Regulations; Game Management; Natural Heritage; and Regional Operations. The Division also is aided by several advisory bodies among which are the Captive Wildlife Advisory Committee; Fur Resources Advisory Committee; Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee; Wildlife Advisory Commission; and Wild Turkey Advisory Committee.


Tawes State Office Building, C-4, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 - 2397

Mission Support organized in May 2007 from Management Services. Mission Support oversees Audit and Management Review, the Office of Fair Practices, and Leadership and Employee Development, as well as four major components: Finance and Administrative Service; Human Resource Service; Information Technology; and Licensing and Registration Service.


As the Management Information Service, Information Technology originated under the Management Service. It became the Information Technology Service in July 2000 when it was placed directly under the Office of the Secretary. In February 2006, it reorganized as Information Technology and Licensing, responsible for both Information Technology and the Licensing and Registration Service. In May 2007, the Licensing and Registration Service split from Information Technology when both moved to Mission Support.

Under Information Technolgy are Applications and Web Services; Information Technology Portfolio and Project Management; Technical Services; and Wireless Communications.

[photo, Sailboats docked at Nabbs Creek, Anne Arundel County, Maryland]


1804 West St., Suite 300, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Licensing and Registration Service began as the Licensing and Watercraft Registration Service. Under its present name, it joined the Resource Management Service in 1995 and transferred to the Management Service in 2001. In February 2006, it moved to Information Technology and Licensing. In May 2007, it transferred to Mission Support.

Sailboats docked at Nabbs Creek, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, August 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The Licensing and Registration Service assesses and collects vessel excise taxes; issues certificates of registration and title to vessels; issues recreational fishing, commercial fishing and hunting licenses; and manages a network of sport license agents. The Service also works with Maryland boaters and the marine industry, promulgates boating and waterway regulations, and biennially produces the Guide for Cruising Maryland Waters.

Regional service centers operate in Annapolis, Bel Air, Centreville, Cumberland, Dundalk, Prince Frederick, and Salisbury (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 4-601 through 4-1043; 8-701 through 8-740; 10-301 through 10-1108).

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