Forestry in the Old Line State
Credit: Jack Perdue, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Maryland was once covered by forest broken only by rivers, marshes, and mountain meadows, this primeval forest stretched from the wet soils of the Atlantic coastal plain to the hills, plateaus, and valleys of the Appalachians. The inhabitants, Native Americans who settled along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, were the first users of the forest, clearing and burning small areas for farming and berry production. In large part, the great forest of countless millions of oak, tulip poplar, eastern hemlock, beech, loblolly pine, white pine and American chestnut was left to grow and die and change with the rhythms of the land and sky.
The forests of Maryland today show the impacts of human migration, agriculture, the lumber industry, iron and charcoal, wildfires, the first attempts at management, and, ultimately, the resiliency of nature.
The Maryland Forest Service, part of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), delivers a range of services to the state's citizens, including providing forest management assistance to private landowners and tree planting and maintenance assistance to cities, towns, and community associations; carrying out wildfire suppression; supporting volunteer fire department training; managing 215,067 acres of State Forests; licensing of forest product operators and tree care experts; growing 3 million tree seedlings annually for conservation planting; conducting statewide forest assessments; and providing forest data to counties for comprehensive plan development. Maryland's top environmental priority continues to be the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. DNR has the lead role in these efforts - efforts the Forest Service contributes to significantly through the planting of riparian forest buffers.