This indicator includes State Forest lands, State Parks, Wildlife Management Areas and Heritage Areas held by the Department of Natural Resources; federal properties like the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Catoctin National Park; and holdings of The Nature Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Ornithological Society and similar groups. It also includes more than 4,400 acres of privately-owned lands under conservation easements held by the Maryland Environmental Trust.
This indicator reflects, for the most part, the public and private intent to hold land for its conservation values, as distinguished from its development potential. Included in the holdings of the State and Federal governments, and private organizations, are some of the most significant ecological areas in the State.
Publicly owned lands offer opportunities to provide “laboratories” to study differing approaches to resource management and watershed restoration, while private lands under conservation easement may offer good opportunities for restoration work, since the owners have committed to their long-term conservation. Private forest lands that are under easement may also help to secure the resource base necessary to sustain the forest products industry.