Maryland Wildlands are areas of state-owned land or water that have retained
their wilderness character or contain rare or vanishing species of plant or
animal life or similar features worthy of preservation. Designated by the
Maryland General Assembly, they may include unique ecological, geological,
scenic and contemplative recreational areas. These sites are Maryland's
equivalent to the federal Wilderness Preservation System.
State-designated Wildlands are managed for passive recreation only,
including hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding
and nature interpretation.
Hunting, fishing and trapping are permitted on Maryland Wildlands,
subject to existing laws, regulations and administrative policies.
If an area was open to hunting or fishing or trapping prior to
Wildland designation, it will continue to be.
Wildlands provide opportunities for eco-tourism and recreation such
as hiking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, nature
interpretation and more. They provide for protection of threatened
and endangered species, as well as watershed and water quality;
allow for wilderness research and primitive recreation; and preserve
unique ecological communities and rare habitats.
Since 1973 when the Big Savage Wildland became the State’s first
Wildland, 38 separate Wildlands have been designated by the General
Assembly. They span 65,956 acres on State Parks, State Forests and
Wildlife Management Areas in 15 counties. The most recent areas were
added in 2014.
Complete List of Maryland Wildlands
Wildlands Interactive Map
A Wildland can only be designated by an act of the General Assembly.
The Secretary of Natural Resources decides which state-owned
properties to review, gives public notice, holds hearings to receive
input from the public and local officials, and then makes a
recommendation to the Governor. If the Governor agrees, he can send
a request to the General Assembly, which can pass a law designating
Wildlands do not affect private property. Wildlands can only be
designated on state-owned property.
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