Newtowne Neck State Park Closed Until Further Notice
Posted July 2, 2013: The State Fire Marshal’s Office Bomb Squad Underwater Hazardous Devices Team, Maryland State Police Dive Team, Baltimore County Bomb Squad, Maryland State Police Tactical Medic, Maryland Natural Resources Police and the Maryland Park Service conducted a two-day ordnance sweep operation at Newtowne Neck State Park located in Leonardtown on Thursday, June 27th and Friday, June 28th.
As the park remains closed, ongoing efforts continue in order to determine the historical uses of the park and the potential risk associated with the ordnance found within the park. The park will remain closed until further notice.
Future Master Planning Effort
Newtowne Neck State Park was purchased by the State of Maryland in 2009 and promises to become a unique and important addition to Maryland's State Park system. The park's outstanding scenery, water access, gentle topography and significant history offer something for everyone. A peninsula of farm fields, forest and sandy shoreline, it is home to historical events and times that tell the story of Southern Maryland. The Department is committed to working with the local community, stakeholder groups and citizens throughout Maryland to develop a future Master Plan that will celebrate the natural, cultural, historical and recreational features of the park.
The future development of a Master Plan for Newtowne Neck will begin with a comprehensive public involvement process. The planning process will build upon the Department's outreach effort conducted in 2009, which involved a facilitated public stakeholder meeting to identify over-arching interpretive themes and recreation development opportunities for Newtowne Neck State Park, as well as two additional Province properties purchased by the State. "Click here" to read the report.
The Master Planning process will also solicit information and input from the public regarding the site's natural and historical resource conservation and research needs, and strive to develop a shared vision for the park's future management and recreation uses. This process will involve site tours, public presentations and charettes, individual stakeholder meetings, and a written public comment period. In 2011, the Department secured a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant in anticipation of the need for capital funding to help support future park improvement projects that are identified during the public planning process.
The start of this Master Planning process has been temporarily delayed due to the discovery of unexploded World War II era ordnance on the shoreline of the State Park in January 2012. The Maryland Park Service is engaged in an ongoing cooperative effort with the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshall, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Department of Defense to determine the nature and extent of the military ordnance issue at the park. Those efforts include the detection and proper disposal of any ordnance discovered, comprehensive research into the reported use of the property by the U.S. military during World War II, the development of public information materials and the eventual clean-up of the park.
To date, the Maryland Park Service has made only minimal improvements to Newtowne Neck State Park in order to fully allow for a public involvement process to guide recreation development. Currently, the park contains the following recreation features:
- An entrance sign, information bulletin board, picnic table and small stone parking area for several cars (open sunrise to sunset).
- A natural-surface launch area for canoes and kayaks that provides access to a protected cove.
- Access to 7 miles of undeveloped shoreline for fishing and wading.
- A network of unimproved farm roads that provides several miles of walking and biking.
- Hunting during regulated seasons.
The Department anticipates that a public involvement process will recommend the development of additional passive, outdoor recreation improvements that complement existing recreation opportunities in the region.
Updates regarding the Master Plan development of Newtowne Neck State Park will be regularly posted on the Department's website.
Newtowne Neck State Park History
Newtowne Neck State Park is a 776 acre peninsula surrounded by Breton Bay, St. Clements Bay, and the Potomac River. It has seven (7) miles of ecologically and recreationally important waterfront.
Newtowne Neck was home to the Piscataway Native American Tribe and their ancestors for many centuries before its settlement by the colonists. The property, Newtowne Neck, is the site of the first settlement in Maryland after the original settlement in Saint Mary’s City. The original colonists landed on St. Clement’s Island in 1634. In 1640, William Bretton was granted 750 acres from Cecelius Calvert for the Newtowne Neck tract. In 1668, the Society of Jesus acquired the property from William Bretton in exchange for 40,000 pounds of tobacco. William and his wife, Temperance, donated one and one-half acres of their property in 1661 to the Society of Jesus to establish a chapel and cemetery. The property was maintained by the Society of Jesus until they withdrew from the land in 1967 to work in other areas.
The Department of Natural Resources purchased Newtowne Neck in late April of 2009. The land was purchased to protect the waterfront from development. The purchase of Newtowne Neck, provides the ability to preserve diverse natural water and land areas, safeguard wildlife habitats, conserve sustainable forest lands, and protect the quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Newtowne Neck will provide public access to the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail and provide a lasting legacy to future generations of Marylanders.
Newtowne Neck is also designated as the first historic district in St. Mary’s County and is listed on the National Register of Historic places.
- Pets are allowed in Newtowne Neck State Park.
Newtowne Neck State Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Maryland State Parks are “Trash Free”. Please practice “Leave No Trace” principles and take your trash with you when you leave. To view these principles visit www.lnt.org. Any questions or concerns, contact Point Lookout State Park at (301)-872-5688.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Non-motorized crafts can be walked in and launched from the launch area during regular park hours. Canoes and kayakers can enjoy access to the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail. Also, for more locations to launch your vessel, visit: Scenic Waterways of St. Mary’s County. Know Before you Go!
Visitors can fish from designated areas along the shoreline year round from sunrise to sunset. A Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License is required for persons 16 and older.
Enjoy the experience of exploring the natural environment, wildlife and different plant species while hiking and walking on the property. Please remember to be considerate of agricultural crops and naturally sensitive areas to avoid adverse impact to this unique area.
Waterfowl hunting is permitted by water only. No land access is permitted for the 2012-2013 hunting season.
Enjoy the opportunities to visit some unique birding habitats including tidal shorelines, forest, hedgerows, meadows and agricultural fields. The Maryland Ornithological Birding checklist may help you document those birds you see at Newtowne Neck State Park.
A limited number of picnic tables are available on a first come first served basis at the day use area.
Maryland Conservation Corps
Newtowne Neck State Park is supported by a Maryland Conservation Corps Program. The Maryland Conservation Corps (MCC) is an AmeriCorps program that engages young adults, ages 17-25, who want to dedicate a year of service to natural resource conservation. Over a ten to 11-month period, MCC members work as crews to complete 1,700 hours of service. Conservation service activities include: trail maintenance, environmental education, stream & wetland restoration, park facility improvements, invasive species removal and Bay grass planting. Extensive member training is provided, including: First Responder certification, Wildland Fire Fighting certification, Search and Rescue certification, Park Operations, Environmental Education and Interpretation, Chainsaw Safety, Leave No Trace and Canoe Trip Leading.
No minimum qualifications are required other than transportation to the designated job site and a desire to serve. Low-cost State Housing is available at certain crew sites. Benefits include a living allowance of $7.00/hour, health care benefits, child care assistance (if eligible) and a $4,725 education scholarship award for those members that complete $1,700 hours of service. MCC employs a Zero Tolerance Policy for any member who uses alcohol or illegal drugs while attending an MCC project, training or event.
For more information or to apply, contact the park manager or download an application from the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Maryland Conservation Corps website: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/mcc/
Volunteer opportunities are plentiful at Newtowne Neck. Volunteers can help with special events, site maintenance, and general site operations. For volunteer information call (301)-872-5688 and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator.
Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
For additional accessible amenities in Maryland State Forests and Parks, visit the Accessibility For All section of this website.
Newtowne Neck State Park is located in St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland. Take Route 5 towards Leonardtown. Turn right at the light at the intersection of Route 5 and MD-243 and follow the road for three miles.
Newtowne Neck State Park
c/o Point Lookout State Park
11175 Point Lookout Road
Scotland MD 20687
Contact Newtowne Neck
Newtowne Neck is part of the Point Lookout complex and can be reached by calling Point Lookout at:
Hours of Operation
Sunrise to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Contact the Park Service
- Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
- Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
- Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
- Email Us