Header Art - Land Acquisition and Planning

Long-term Land Use Planning


Planners within the Land Acquisition and Planning unit provide statewide technical assistance and analysis for public land acquisition, development and resource management, including land and water mapping services, use plans, property control functions and impact assessments.

We support the department's mission to protect, conserve and enhance the State's natural, cultural and recreational resources to ensure they are available to the present and future residents of and visitors to the State of Maryland.

The team also supports local jurisdiction open space and recreation planning.

Why is Planning Important?

Natural Resource Planners within the Land Acquisition and Planning provide technical advice in the preparation of land unit plans for State Parks and other DNR-owned parcels of land (commonly referred to as land units). These Planners lead in planning work when issues affect multiple land managing units of the Department or where real estate conveyances could be taken to the Board of Public Works for approval.

Staff of the Land Acquisition and Planning Unit also participate in the four interdisciplinary stewardship teams throughout the State and sometimes lead interdisciplinary teams formed for specific issues that affect more than one land managing unit. The team members, who represent a full cross section of the Department’s resource professionals, participate in the evaluation of public lands management issues, including project reviews and the development of plans, and supply recommendations to resolve or address resource stewardship issues. The teams represent the Department’s commitment to take the required steps to improve the effectiveness of natural resource stewardship and customer service through science-based decision-making.

These individuals also play a significant role in providing technical planning assistance to municipal governments, nonprofits and organizations upon request. The unit works with local jurisdictions on cooperative planning and land conservation projects that are related to heritage and nature tourism, scenic rivers, trails, and other related initiatives, often in cooperation with other state agencies.

More specific functions of planning include the following:

  • Assisting in the development of computer map-based plans for Maryland’s 455,000 acres of parks, forests and other designated lands units under the guidance of the State's Land Preservation Parks and Recreation Plan and DNR’s Strategic Plan for Recreation and Conversation.

  • Developing studies, assessments and analyses of natural resources, recreation and user conflict issues.

  • Designing strategies for meaningful public involvement and participation throughout the development of plans and studies, including working with local government officials, the general public and representatives from the Maryland General Assembly.

  • Coordinating the delineation of State land boundary lines, verification of deeds, historical research and maintenance of all property records and mapping boundaries and resources for the purposes of law enforcement, public use and resource protection.

  • Assessing the potential impacts from proposed private and public development and activities that affect the Department’s public lands, which could require a conveyance by the Board of Public Works.

  • Developing river management plans for State designated “Scenic Rivers”, and assessing development that may affect “Scenic Rivers”.

Basic Steps Involved in a Master Planning Process

  • Assess the type of land in relation to its regional setting and recreation and resource conservation needs;

  • Analyze the physical site and its natural, cultural, and recreational resources;

  • Establish a public involvement process to obtain input;

  • Review proposals for alternative uses of the land;

  • Create conceptual plans for various land holdings;

  • Obtain public input on the draft Plan; and

  • Complete and adopt the Plan for the land unit.

Major Issues

  • Conflicts between different User Groups

  • Users/Uses Conflicting with Resource Protection

  • Legal Issues related to DNR-owned Property Boundaries

  • Inappropriate Uses Proposed


Stewardship Staff Contacts