Saint Inigoes State Forest

Photo of St. Inigoes State Forest in MarylandHistory

The St. Inigoes State Forest Province property in St. Mary’s County was purchased by the Department of Natural Resources in 2009. The acquisition was one of four properties totaling 4,478 acres previously known as The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus owned by the Corporation of the Roman Catholic Clergyman. The property is comprised of 938 acres located on a peninsula between St. Mary’s River and Smith Creek bordering the Potomac River. There are 324 acres of woodland, 524 acres of agricultural land and six residential dwellings on the property. The St. Inigoes State Forest property (locally known as Kitts Point) is the most ancient Jesuit establishment in the United States, and probably the oldest in the world that remained in continuous possession. Located at the mouth of the Potomac River it is also one of the earliest settlements in colonial Maryland.

Captain John Smith most likely viewed the landscape while traveling up the Potomac River in 1608, but a landing was never documented. The property was originally acquired in 1634 as a grant from the King of England as part of the 400-acre tract. The property consisted of a working farm designed to support Jesuit missions throughout Maryland.

A substantial portion of the original property was acquired by the US Government in the early 1940s to further the “War Effort” during World War II and create an outlying field for the newly established Patuxent River Naval Air Station, currently know as “Webster Field” which borders St. Inigoes State Forest to the North.

Forest Management

The Jesuits managed the property for forest products, recreation and wildlife. The most recent harvest operations initiated by the previous owner include a 12-acre loblolly pine Seed Tree harvest and a 50-acre selection harvest for sawlogs in a mixed pine/hardwood stand. In the past the tenant farmers harvested wood products for heat and fuel purposes as well as lumber for barns, boats and houses.

Sixty acres of forest buffers were planted along drainage areas and shorelines at part of the Governor’s Forest Brigade tree planting initiative in 2011. In 2012, a 38-acre stand of mature loblolly pine was regenerated and replanted with pine by the Maryland Forest Service. Future forest management strategies will be to institute Sustainable Forest Management techniques that respect the full range of environmental, social and economic values of the forest.

The DNR- Natural Heritage Program maintains a database that indicates that no rare or endangered species were found on the property.

Wildlife Management

In cooperation with the Wildlife Division of the DNR the property is open to public hunting. Two parking areas have been created along with two goose blinds, one goose pit and waterfowl blind sites. Forest game, upland game and waterfowl hunting is available at St. Inigoes State Forest. Reservations are required for all hunting and can be obtained by calling the Wildlife Division at the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management office at 301-743-5161. Kiosks with maps have been installed at each parking area.

Water Access/Hiking

A day use soft landing site for kayaks will be developed with a primitive campsite. Once developed the campsite use will be by reservation. Access to St. Mary’s River via a trail system is available at the southern most parking lot. A hiking trail system has been established with kiosks and maps at the two designated parking areas.

Leave No Trace

St. Inigoes State Forest is Trash Free. Read more about Leave No Trace.

Location

In St. Mary’s County, East and West side of Beachville Road due South of Webster’s Field and Gum Landing Road out to Kitts Point on the Potomac River.