Projected Watershed Character Year 2020
Human population growth, and how it is accommodated in the landscape, is the dominant local influence on the future of forests and forestry in Maryland. The primary institutional framework determining how and where development will be accommodated is local government, operating through zoning and subdivision regulation and the programming of infrastructure like roads, water lines and sewers.
Watershed classifications mapped in this indicator are based on the proportion of urban and rural land uses as defined by the Maryland Department of Planning’s 1997 and projected 2020 land use estimates. The exurban areas represent the greatest shift from predominantly rural to more developed use between 1997 and 2020.
From a forest management perspective, areas identified as exurban are more likely to experience wholesale one-time land clearing cuts rather than continued forest production. In the more urbanized parts of the State, where use of forest areas for residential settings is increasingly prevalent, it is less likely that trees will be harvested, and access to the forests for other products, for example mushrooms or berries, or activities like hiking or hunting, may be restricted. The nature of most Department of Natural Resources programs providing forestry services will need to change accordingly: traditional forest management services will more strategically be targeted to remaining rural areas, while the need for urban forestry services will grow.