In the 1920s and 1930s, wildlife biologists concentrated on raising game birds to help bolster low populations in the wild. The Billmeyer WMA was purchased for this purpose and game birds were raised in hopes that surplus populations would spread to adjacent lands. Nearby, the Bellgrove WMA was used exclusively for raising wild turkeys. Today this 758-acre tract in Allegany County is no longer a game bird farm. Forests and fields abound with wildlife, providing natural beauty and recreation for many outdoor interests.
Billmeyer is situated within the ridge and valley physiographic province, which is characterized by steep slopes. Elevations range from 800 feet in the hollow along Terrapin Run to a high of 1,200 feet along the ridge tops. The property is dominated by mixed oak forest with a few patches of conifers, mostly Virginia pine, with about 25 acres in fields or small wildlife openings.
Turkeys are abundant here. Hens with their chicks, called "poults," can often be seen pecking through the fields for seeds and insects. In the spring, ruffed grouse drum out their territory and breeding condition on fallen logs. White-tailed deer are a common sight, leaping across the roads and fields. Forest management techniques, which benefit wildlife and produce valuable timber, are demonstrated.
Hunters can pursue white-tailed deer, grouse, turkeys, squirrels, woodcock and rabbits. Trapping is also available by permit. Several trails and old logging roads make for an exhilarating day of hiking, with great nature shots for those armed with cameras.
Take the Orleans Road exit off of I-68, and proceed north to Scenic Route 40. Turn left and travel over Town Hill Mountain. At the bottom of the mountain turn left onto Mountain Road. For additional information, contact the Billmeyer Wildlife Office at (301) 478-2525.
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This area is a part of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources public land system and is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The primary mission of the WMA system is to conserve and enhance wildlife populations and their respective habitats as well as to provide public recreational use of the State’s wildlife resources.
Eighty-five percent of the funding for Maryland's state wildlife programs comes from hunting license fees and a federal excise tax on sport hunting devices and ammunition. The federal aid funds are derived from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (or Pittman-Robertson) Fund, which sportsmen and women have been contributing to since 1937. Each state receives a share of the funds, which is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service; these funds are used for wildlife conservation and hunter education programs, including the management of the WMA system.
Other sources of funds for land acquisition include Program Open Space Funding for Maryland's State and local parks and conservation areas, provided through The Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space. Established in 1969, Program Open Space symbolizes Maryland's long-term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.
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