News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Plans To Expand Pet Access In State Parks

Maryland Park Service Seeks Comment On Proposed Pet Policy

Annapolis, Md. (October 26, 2009) — The Maryland Park Service (MPS) will begin taking public comments on its plan to expand pet access in state parks, while continuing to provide a safe, enjoyable outdoor experience for everyone. MPS recently reviewed the existing pet policy in state parks and is proposing adjustments to that policy.

“We want to give Marylanders the chance to enjoy more of our parks with their whole family, including pets, while minimizing any potential conflicts with other visitors,” said MPS superintendent Nita Settina.

As part of the overall policy, park managers will retain the discretion to prohibit pets from certain facilities within areas where pets are allowed (e.g. visitor centers, playgrounds). Service animals will still be allowed in all areas open to their owners.

After reviewing the comments received from park users and other interested parties, final decisions will be made and the new policy will be implemented in early 2010.

Maryland’s State Parks have always been places where families can come to engage in a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities in beautiful surroundings. Increasingly, there is a desire for pets to be included in that experience. While the MPS has historically created opportunities for visitors to recreate with their pets, certain areas have been off-limits. As part of a continuous effort to improve visitor experiences in Maryland State Parks, a comprehensive review of the existing pet policy was conducted and proposed changes were developed. The last phase of that review is to solicit public comment on the proposals before the final policy is implemented.

The proposed pet policy changes were developed with consideration for the opinions and perspectives of park staff and visitors who have contacted the MPS about this specific issue over the years. Pet policies employed by similar parks and recreational facilities in Maryland and in other states were also reviewed.

The MPS encourages opinions and comments and will consider them to arrive at the best possible policy to serve all visitors.

To review the proposed changes to the Maryland Park Service Pet Policy, go to and view the information, organized by region and individual park.

Public comments on the proposed changes will be accepted online until November 30 at

Written comments may also be sent to: Pet Policy Comments, Maryland Park Service, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.

   October 26, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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 12 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