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A Letter to the Editors of the Baltimore Sun
Over the past few months, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Park Service became aware of the allegations regarding volunteer activities detailed by Candus Thompson (State park volunteerism gets a black eye, Dec. 15).
Since these allegations were presented in the form of unsubstantiated rumor, we requested that all documentation and evidence of wrongdoing be provided to us. Unfortunately, no such evidence has been supplied.
Nevertheless, because DNR takes such allegations very seriously, we initiated several internal investigations to explore the rumors. While three of the investigations are still ongoing, two others involving radio collared-deer have been completed and were found not to have merit and/or did not involve volunteers.
We are currently making every effort to conclude the remaining investigations regarding potential ethical breeches and inappropriate conduct of volunteers as quickly as possible. If any wrongdoing has occurred with regard to DNR staff, disciplinary action will be taken. If even a hint of criminal activity is found during an internal inquiry, the investigation will be immediately turned over to DNR’s enforcement arm, the Natural Resources Police.
We have also begun reviewing our policies to ensure inappropriate activity such as that alleged does not occur in Maryland State Parks or on any other public land.
Further, I ask that anyone who has firsthand knowledge of unethical or illegal activity on any Maryland public land please come forward and report such activity to Capt. Lloyd Ingerson, Natural Resources Police, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our volunteer citizens and friends groups provide essential assistance to regular park staff. Last year over 8,300 volunteers provided 297,000 volunteer hours in our state parks. We appreciate and value their important work, and rely greatly on their continued support.
Maryland State Parks host more than 12 million visitors each year, and we take great pride in providing a safe and enjoyable experience.
C. Ronald Franks
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
December 20, 2005
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 18,000 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