Department of Natural Resources Secretary’s Spring message


Mark Belton HeadshotSpring is an exciting time for those of us who are passionate about the great outdoors. For many, the longer days and warmer weather leads us to adventure out onto the water, particularly the Chesapeake Bay.

In this edition of the Maryland Natural Resource, you can find a promising progress report from our partners at the Chesapeake Bay Program, who help coordinate regional restoration activities. We have witnessed many positive signs that our efforts, investment and sacrifice to clean up the bay are finally paying off, but much work remains to be done. Governor Larry Hogan and I are committed to supporting the Chesapeake Bay Program and reaching our shared agreement goals by 2025. You can also learn about our restoration work during Maryland Public Television’s Chesapeake Bay Week, April 22-28. You can find a listing of programs airing that week.

Other articles offer you a citizen’s guide to enjoying our region. In addition to highlighting the well-known beaches and boating spots, we look at some off-the-beaten-path activities found around the estuary.

As anglers gear up for another exciting fishing season, the department’s tidal bass program manager, Joe Love, gives us a look into bass tournaments, and how we are working to conserve the species.

Going ashore, we learn about a native species that goes largely unnoticed—the bobcat, which is the only native wildcat in Maryland. Chances are you’ve been near one without even knowing it.

Among the experts keeping an eye on our state’s species is Kerry Wixted of our Wildlife and Heritage Service. Kerry specializes in education and outreach programming, and helps Marylanders and others better understand the fauna of our great state. Her passion is truly making a difference. Read more about her in our From the Field feature.

On the subject of our dedicated staff, I’m proud to join Governor Hogan in extending congratulations to the Natural Resources Police on their 150th anniversary.

As you may know, the unit traces its origins to the Maryland Oyster Police Force, which was founded in 1868 with the appointment of its first commander, Hunter Davidson. As a Naval Academy graduate who saw action around the world, his leadership of the fledging “Oyster Navy” made a long-lasting impact on conservation enforcement in the state. I invite you to read a story I wrote about Davidson, exclusively for this edition.

While perusing these articles and our website, I hope you discover all the exciting outdoor opportunities the Free State has to offer.

Happy spring! I’ll see you outside.

Mark Belton

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