Chesapeake Conservancy commends effort to designate new Wildlands by Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Today, the Chesapeake Conservancy applauded Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, and the many delegates who are supporting the bills that would add almost 22,000 acres of state land to the Department of Natural Resources’ Maryland Wildlands Preservation System.

The Wildlands are Maryland’s state level equivalent of the federal Wilderness Preservation System. Lands under these systems are managed for passive recreation only. Hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding and nature interpretation are all activities that can be enjoyed within the boundaries of Wildlands. House Bill 296 and Senate Bill 336 would expand 14 of the 29 existing Wildlands and create 9 new Wildlands areas. These already state-owned properties are lands which have excelled at retaining their wilderness character or contain habitat for rare, threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species.

Chesapeake Conservancy Executive Director Joel Dunn said, “The Chesapeake Conservancy is particularly excited about the proposed Wildlands along the Potomac and Pocomoke Rivers, as protecting these spaces would advance efforts towards the formation of a protected ecological river corridor and expand primitive camping opportunities in appropriate locations.” Dunn testified in support of the Wildlands bills in front of both the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Committee. Read his testimony here.

The Chesapeake Conservancy works for the conservation of the Chesapeake’s special places and creating more public access to the Bay. The Conservancy feels strongly that these new Wildlands would play a significant role in protecting biodiversity in Maryland and celebrating our state’s extraordinary natural resources. The proposed changes to the Wildlands Preservation System will nurture a stronger relationship between the people of Maryland and the natural wonders of the Chesapeake Bay.

A complete overview of the Maryland Wildlands Preservation System can be viewed here.