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DNR Forest Service To Assume Management
Responsibility For Maryland’s State Forests Expertise, technical knowledge will help meet new challenges
ANNAPOLIS — Reiterating its commitment to both improving government efficiency and maintaining the stewardship of one of our most precious natural resources, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that its Forest Service will assume management responsibility of Maryland’s State Forests. Until now, DNR’s State Forest and Park Service (SFPS) has been managing these properties, which include Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County, Potomac–Garrett and Savage River State Forests in Garrett County and Pocomoke State Forest in Worcester County. The transfer of management responsibility is effective immediately, but an inter-agency transition team composed of members of both units will work together to implement the transfer between now and July 1, 2005.
As a result of budget deliberations during the 2004 General Assembly Session, DNR was required to evaluate the practicality and value of assigning management responsibility for the State Forests to the Maryland Forest Service, and to issue a Joint Committee Report on the issue. Such a transfer had been under consideration for some time as Maryland has been one of the few states in the country not to have its State Forests managed under the authority of the State Forester, who in Maryland is Steven W. Koehn, Director of the Maryland Forest Service.
“The way in which the State Forest and Park Service has managed the State Forests has been exemplary, however the Forest Service has greater scientific, academic and professional expertise in the newest approaches to sustainable forest management,” said DNR Assistant Secretary Michael E. Slattery. “Separation of State Forest and State Park operations allows each unit to focus their resources where their respective professional expertise is the greatest. It’s better for the staff and for the citizens who enjoy Maryland’s State Forests every day.”
DNR has determined this shift in State Forest management responsibility will best align its internal resources and expertise to meet the new challenges set forth in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification Standards pursuant to Executive Order 01.01.2004.21 (www.gov.state.md.us/executiveorders/2004/0421eo.html), and to capitalize on new technologies to fulfill its continued vision for sustainable management of the State Forests.
The shift in management responsibility for the State Forests is expected to have little impact on the current operations at DNR and personnel will be shifted between the units as necessary to achieve forest sustainability goals.
“The Partnership for Sustainable Forestry welcomes the forests back to the Forest Service. We commend the Ehrlich Administration for making this prudent and timely decision,” said Gary Allen, Chairman of the Partnership for Sustainable Forestry.
The assumption of forest management by the Forest Service will have no impact on forest harvesting. The Department will apply internationally recognized forest sustainability criteria, as outlined in the SFI and FSC Certification standards, to the management of Maryland’s State Forests.
“We are ecstatic at the prospect of managing Maryland’s State Forests and we thank the State Forest and Park Service for being excellent stewards of these precious natural resources,” said State Forester Koehn. “This new organizational structure will provide for better efficiency in decision making to achieve the best results for State Forest management.”
Maryland’s Forest Service works with partners and stakeholders in the forestry, recreational and environmental communities to influence the health, sustainability, diversity and productivity of Maryland’s forests and trees. It strives for clean water, healthy forests and livable communities. The Forest Service’s current mission is to restore, manage and protect Maryland’s trees, forests and forested ecosystems to sustain our natural resources and connect people to the land.
The Maryland Park Service will continue to have management responsibility for Maryland’s 49 parks, natural environmental areas, natural resource areas and marinas.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov