Maryland Forestry and State Parks Centennial
Final Report, June 27, 2007
To mark the
centennial of the founding of state forestry and state parks in Maryland, the
Maryland Forest Service and the Maryland Park Service, agencies of the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources, cooperated on a number of activities during
2006 and the beginning of 2007. This report is a summary of the activities and
accomplishments of the Maryland Forestry and Parks Centennial Committee.
The committee was
comprised of employees from the two services, as well as volunteers. It funded
most of the observance activities with donated funds.
The committee first
met at a luncheon on October 20, 2004, at the Elkridge Furnace Inn, in Elkridge,
Maryland. The historic Inn is located within Patapsco Valley State Park. At
this meeting a number of ideas for centennial observances and projects were
identified. The committee continued to meet monthly into 2007 to further plan
and execute centennial events and projects.
- Contributed to financial support for a sabbatical
taken by Geoffrey L. Buckley, Professor of Geography at Ohio University, to
research and write an academic study of the career of Fred W. Besley,
Maryland’s first state forester. The book is scheduled for publication late
- Kicked off the centennial observance at the 2005
annual meeting of the Maryland Forest Association meeting on November 4 and
5 of that year at the Rocky Gap Lodge and Conference center, at Rocky Gap
- Supported the research and publication of a popularly
oriented picture history of Maryland forests and parks, authored by Maryland
Park Service historian Robert F. Bailey, III. The book was published in
November 2006 under the title Maryland’s Forests and Parks: A Century of
Progress, by Arcadia Publishing.
- Encouraged and assisted Maryland Public Television’s
documentary The Best Days of Our Lives: The Centennial of Maryland State
Forests and Parks. This production was part of MPT’s established series
Outdoors Maryland. Documentary premiered on MPT, November 14, 2006,
and subsequent rebroadcasts. Public response has been overwhelmingly
positive and documentary was nominated for an “Emmy” award in the public
service documentary category.
- Erected bronze plaques and held dedication ceremonies
at the following eight sites across Maryland that are important to the
history of Maryland forestry and parks:
- University of Maryland, site of the first State
forest tree nursery. Dedication held April 5, 2006;
- Hilton Area, Patapsco Valley State Park, to
commemorate Patapsco as the first state park. Dedication held May 23,
- Wye Oak State Park, to plant a clone of the
original Wye Oak, also to exhibit works of art produced from remnants of
the original Wye Oak by Maryland artists. Dedication held June 6, 2006;
- High Knob Area, Gambrill State Park, to
commemorate the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps in developing
Maryland’s forestry and parks during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Dedication held on September 17, 2006
- Orange Grove Area, Patapsco Valley State Park, to
commemorate the Besley family’s demonstration camping activities on
Maryland forest/park land in the 1920s. Dedication held October 10,
- Deep Creek Lake State Park, to commemorate the
role of fire towers and fire wardens in suppressing forest fires during
the early 20th century. Dedication held on October 15, 2006;
- Garrett State Forest, to commemorate the Garrett
brothers’ bequest of the first state-owned forest land in Maryland,
April 10, 2007.
- Gambrill State Park, to observe the 100th
birthday of Helen Besley Overington, daughter of Fred W. Besley. Buried
the Maryland Forest and Park services time capsule at Gambrill, with
Mrs. Overington officiating by throwing in the first handful of dirt,
July 31, 2007.
- Developed and posted a Maryland Forestry and Parks
Centennial Web site.
- Presented four Centennial sessions at the annual
Maryland Recreation and Parks Conference at Ocean City, Maryland, and
provided a Centennial exhibit, April 18-20, 2006.
- Encouraged and conducted ceremonial tree plantings in
many Maryland counties.
- Initiated an oral history project with interviews made
with retired employees of the two services.
- Produced 50 die-cast 1:30 scale collectible replica of
a Dodge Power Wagon forest fire patrol truck, such as was used from the late
1940s into the 1960s.
- Produced a centennial calendar.
- Reproduced Fred W. Besley’s classic booklet Forest
Trees of Maryland.
- Placed centennial exhibits around the state, some for
long-term display, some for single event display. Notable among these
displays was one that appeared in the store-front window of the Garrett
County Historical Society in Oakland for a four-month period; another that
appeared at the Garrett County Visitor Center in McHenry, Maryland, for a
10-month period and at the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center for
18 months; exhibits in the lobby display case of the J. Millard Tawes
Department of Natural Resources building in Annapolis, for three months.
Used a trailer fitted out as the Maryland Forestry and Parks Centennial
Trailer, and taken to special events to highlight the centennial.
- Surveyed the sites of at least 34 forest fire lookout
towers that were active from the 1930s to the 1970s across the state. At
the time of this report, the survey is on-going and will result in
publications. Barbara Garner, a former employee of the Maryland Park
Service and volunteer on the committee has undertaken this monumental task.
- Produced at least 16 popular and academic articles on
various aspects of Maryland forest and park history, written by different
people and published in a variety of publications.
- Produced and delivered many talks to public and
professional groups on forest and park history.
- Presented approximately 10 living history programs
using reenactors in period dress representing people of importance to forest
and park history. The reenactments included Robert Garrett (portrayed by Al
Feldstein from the Department of State Planning), Fred W. Besley (portrayed
by Offutt Johnson), and early forest wardens (portrayed by Francis Zumbrun).
- Entered a Maryland Forestry and Parks unit in the
annual Autumn Glory Parade in Oakland on October 14, 2006, that was viewed
by approximately 50,000 spectators. This was a major undertaking headed by
former employee and volunteer Offutt Johnson. Other contributing entities
were Deep Creek Lake State Park; Potomac-Garrett State Forest, and number of
Garrett County schools, the Maryland Conservation Corps, and the Garrett
County Historical Society.
- Developed and provided Centennial promotional items to
include: pins, patches, hats, and shirts for forestry and parks staff, and
- Reinstated the historic Calvert Cross and Oak Leaf
(red, white and green) shoulder patch and logo.
- Designed and created a special Centennial badge for
Maryland Park Service law enforcement personnel, to be used during the
- Some Committee members participated in Patapsco Valley
State Park’s100th anniversary gala celebration at the Elk Ridge
Furnace Inn on June 4, 2007. Though this event was sponsored by the Friends
of Patapsco Valley State Park rather than the Centennial Committee, it
dovetailed nicely with the Centennial Celebration.
Although both services provided staff time and equipment,
as will as some financial support, to help accomplish the 2006 Maryland Forestry
and Park Centennial, generous donations from corporate sponsors and private
individuals made the Centennial activities possible.
On the Park Service side, one anonymous private individual
generously donated $10,000 to digitize and transcribe about 50 taped oral
history interviews that had been undertaken in 1980 with veterans of the
Civilian Conservation Corps. The Maryland Aggregates Association, Inc.,
contributed $10,250 from five of their member companies and one private
contributor. The Maryland Aggregates donations resulted from the efforts of Yvon
Bergevin of Aggregate Industries and David Thomey of the Maryland Aggregates
Association, Inc. These gentlemen devoted considerable time to making the
donations possible. Other private donations brought in an additional $1,050.
The Days Cove Reclamation Company, through the help of Ken Bennix, contributed
$2,500. Altogether, on the park side, private and corporate donations equaled
The Park and Resources Conservation Foundation, Inc., and
the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, Inc., provided a most valuable
service by acting as a depository for these funds, and wrote checks to cover
On the Forest Service side, the Maryland Forests
Association served as banker for $12,723 in donations. These donations were
forthcoming chiefly through the efforts of Centennial Committee member Kirk
Rodgers, whose family business the Besley and Rodgers, Inc., continues the
private forestry business started by Kirk’s grandfather, Fred W. Besley. The
Besley-Rodgers family, including the matriarch, Helen Besley Overington, 99 year
old surviving child of Fred Besley, participated in various centennial
The Maryland Forestry and Parks Committee deserves special
mention. The members were the “miracle workers” who, despite severe state
budget cuts and staff shortages, placed a high priority on staging the
centennial observance. Motivation for participation were many, but the common
thread was a heart-felt dedication to memorializing the record of the first
hundred years of Maryland forestry and parks history as well as to research and
record as much as could be done during the centennial year, an effort that
Recognition of Individuals:
Countless individuals contributed time and effort to making
the 2006 Maryland Forestry and Park Centennial possible. The following is a
list of many of those individuals, and is no doubt incomplete. Additional names
will be found among the material in the Centennial Time Capsule.
- C. Ronald Franks, Secretary of the Department of
Natural Resources during the Centennial year
- Ronald Gunns, Deputy Secretary of the Department of
Natural Resources during the Centennial year
- Col. Rick Barton, Superintendent of State Parks
- Lt. Col. Rusty Ruszin, Assistant Superintendent of
- Steven Koehn, Maryland State Forester and Centennial
- Susanne Stahley, Susan Jacobson, and Mike English of
Maryland Public Television, which produced the broadcast documentary on
Forest and Park history
- Ross M. Kimmel, State Park Historian for the Maryland
Park Service and chair of the Maryland Forestry and Park Centennial
- Robert F. Bailey, III, research historian for the
Maryland Park Service, for research into forest and park history and
authoring the book Maryland’s Forests and Parks: A Century of Progress,
and Centennial Committee member
- Geoffrey L. Buckley, Professor of Geography, Ohio
University, for research and anticipated monograph on the work of Fred W.
Besley and the early years of forest and park history in Maryland
- Thomas Gamper, Chair of the Governor’s Commission on
State Parks and Centennial Committee member
- Kirk Rodgers, Besley and Rodgers, Inc., and Centennial
Committee member, grandson of Fred W. Besley
- Francis (Champ) Zumbrun, manager of Green Ridge State
Forester and Centennial Committee member
- Laurie Witcher, Development Officer, Maryland Park
- Kenneth Ropp and Paul Farragut, members of the Friends
of Patapsco Valley State Park
- Herb Schwartz and David Rowland, members of the
Friends of Maryland State Parks, Inc.
- Steve McCoy, Chief of Interpretation, Maryland Park
Service and Centennial Committee member
- Maureen Brooks, Mike Huneke, Frank Lopez, Pam Kelly
(Centennial Committee member), Pam Cressman, Richard Egolf, Jack Perdue,
Donna Baker, Beth Sanders, Chip Broadwater, and George Rocky, all of the
Maryland Forest Service
- Roberta Dorsch, volunteer coordinator for the Maryland
Park Service and Centennial Committee member
- Cindy Ecker, manager of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill
State Parks, and staff members Mark Maas and Eric Creter
- David Baker, manager of Deep Creek State Park, and
staff members Patty Manown-Mash, Caroline Blizzard, and volunteer Tom Carr;
also park staff and volunteers
- John Denning, manager of Potomac-Garrett State Forest,
and wife Linda
- Karin Miller, executive director, Maryland Forest
- Jack Perdue, Maryland Forest Service
- Dave Goodwin, Chuck Montrie, Jeff Williams, Tom Ross,
Diane Collins, Ritch Stevenson, and John Marshall of the Maryland Recreation
and Park Association
- Sandi Trent, Ritch Sevenson, and Joe O’Neill of the
Park and Resource Conservation, Inc.
- Anthony Burrows and Linda Wiley of DNR Information
Technology Service for design and construction of the Centennial Web site
- Bob Boal (President), Gretchen Schaffer, Eleanor
Callis, Junior Ferguson, Paul Shogren, Terry Helbig, and Cliff Dewitt of the
Garrett County Historical Society;
- John Cornell, Peter Lampell, Dorie Coleman, Michael
Walsh, Darlene Pisani, and John Wald of the Department of Natural Resources
Office of Communication and Marketing
- Barbara Garner, former assistant manager of Seneca
Creek State Park, Centennial Committee member and researcher into the forest
fire towers of Maryland
- Christina Holden, public relations and marketing
manager, Maryland Park Service
- Professor Patrick Kangas, Coordinator of Natural
Resources and Park Management Curriculums, University of Maryland,
Centennial Committee member
- David Thomey, Maryland Aggregates Association, Inc.
- Offutt Johnson, retired naturalist at Patapsco Valley
State Park, and wife Joan, for numerous contributions to the Centennial
- John Norbeck, Central Regional Manager, Maryland Park
- Neal Herrick, Eastern Regional Manager, Maryland Park
- Daryl Anthony, Central Regional Manager, Maryland Park
- Gary Burnett, manager, Patapsco Valley State Park, and
- John Ohler manager, Wye Oak State Park, and staff
- Chris Anderson, Western Regional Manager, Maryland
- Steve Cummings of the Forest Fire Lookout Association
- Michael Gregory, manager, New Germany State Park, and
- Kitty Shortall, retired fire tower lookout and
communications officer for the Maryland Forest and Park Services, and her
daughters Kay Beasley and Joan Huber
- Ward Ashby, retired Deep Creek State Park manager.
The Maryland Forest Service had its own internal
Centennial committee, the members of which were as follows:
- Donna Baker
- Pam Cressman
- Terry Galloway
- Mike Huneke
- Pam Kelly
- Steve Koehn
- Kathy KronnerFrank Lopez
- Jack Perdue
- Beth Sanders
- Francis Zumbrun
The many contributions of these individuals, and
others not named, are gratefully acknowledged.
Individual and Corporate Sponsors:
Many individuals and corporate entities made
financial contributions to the 2006 Maryland Forest and Park Centennial, as
- Anonymous, for digitizing and transcribing CCC oral
- Yvon Bergevin and David Thomey, Maryland Aggregates
- Lafarge, David M. Slaughter, president of Ready Mix
Concrete and Rick Sheetz, vice president, Aggregates;
- Reliable Contracting Co., Inc., John T. Baldwin,
- Maryland Materials, Inc., Cyndi Brodnyan, chief
- York Building Products, Inc., Chris Kaminski;
- Days Cove Reclamation Company, Ken Bennix;
- Heritage Resources, Ltd, Paul D. Durham, Jr.;
- Dr. Frances Shulter Ellis (wife of Spencer P. Ellis,
deceased, former Director of Forests and Parks)
- Mountaineer Log and Siding, W. Thomas Myers, Jr.;
- Central Atlantic Toyota;
- Maryland-Delaware Chapter, Society of American
- Northrup Grumman
- Smurfit-Stone Container, Inc.
- Maryland Christmas Tree Growers Association
- Montgomery County Forestry Board
- Mary Cosby (granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln Sines)
- Cropper Bros.
- Edrich Lumber
- Offutt and Joan Johnson
- Paul Jones
- James Thomas
- Laurence Sharp
- Letha Williams
- Roy S. Eberle
- J.V. Wells
The contributions of all these
corporate bodies and individuals are gratefully acknowledged.