Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Agency overview
Formed1969; 52 years ago (1969)
HeadquartersAnnapolis, Maryland, United States

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a government agency in the state of Maryland charged with maintaining natural resources including state parks, public lands, state forests, state waterways, wildlife and recreation areas. Its headquarters are in Annapolis.

Department responsibilities[edit]

The Department's principal functions are:

  • Managing over 461,000 acres (1,870 km2) of public lands
  • Protecting over 17,000 miles (27,000 km) of waterways
  • Lead agency for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal bays.[1]

DNR does not issue or enforce environmental permits under the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and related laws. Those functions are the responsibility of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).[2]

Organizational history[edit]

DNR was established in 1969 as part of a reorganization of the Maryland executive branch initiated by the 56th Governor of Maryland Marvin Mandel (1920–2015, served 1969–1979). DNR assumed the responsibilities formerly held by the earlier Maryland Board of Natural Resources (established in 1941), and consolidated the agency's authority under a single cabinet-level department secretary. The first DNR secretary was former Maryland 54th Governor J. Millard Tawes, who served in that capacity until 1971. Other notable DNR secretaries have included James Coulter (1971–1983) and Torrey C. Brown (1983–1995). The department is headquartered in the Tawes State Office building at 580 Taylor Avenue in Annapolis.[3]

Leadership and management[edit]

Natural Resources Secretary Mark J. Belton was appointed in 2015. The Deputy Secretary is Joanne Throwe.

Mission Support[edit]

The Mission Support organization includes Human Resources Services, Leadership/Employee Development, Office of Fair Practices, Licensing and Registration Services, Finance and Administration Service, Audit and Management Review, and Information Technology.[4]

Land Resources[edit]

Land Resources includes the Park Service, Forest Service, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Land Acquisition and Planning, Engineering and Construction, and the Maryland Environmental Trust.[4]

Maryland Park Service[edit]

The mission of the Maryland Park Service is to manage the natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources to provide for wise stewardship and enjoyment by people. The Service manages 66 state parks. Services include camping, biking, boating and fishing, hiking, outdoor programs, and exploring natural resources. The Service consists of both civilian and law enforcement rangers.

Wildlife and Trees[edit]

DNR closely regulates wildlife, tracking diseases and populations. During the previous hunting season there was a lone reported case of a hunter legally taking a deer only to find out later that the deer tagged was infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, CWD. CWD is a neurological disease that effect deer elk and moose, where the infected have symptoms such as loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities, and even death (Learn). People are warned to avoid contact with the brain, spinal cord, and lymph nodes because these are the areas that become infected. To help control this problem each year the MD-DNR takes samples from the deer harvested to test for any signs of CWD. The main focus is in the western Maryland counties due to the reports of CWD in West Virginia and Virginia (Communications, 2011).[3]

The DNR is also responsible for regulating the 3 million acres (12,000 km2) of wooded land in Maryland. There are over 160 species of trees that help create these millions of acres of forest. This abundant acreage makes the forest industry one of the biggest businesses in the state, with more than 18,000 people reliant on wood products. In the two westernmost counties, Garrett and Allegany, forestry is the largest employer. Over the years there have been many contributing factors that have diminished some of the wooded areas around the state. Since the early 1980s, almost half a million acres (4,000 km²) have been infested with gypsy moths that destroyed forests. There are also the Southern Pine bark beetles that have caused excessive damage to the pine trees on the Eastern Shore. Another reason for damage to the forestry is the cover fires that occur every year. The spring and the fall are the prime times for fires because of the climate changes. There are more than 6,000 fires destroying 8,000–10,000 acres each year in Maryland.[3]

Aquatic Resources[edit]

Aquatic Resources includes Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Boating Services, Fisheries Service, Resources Assessment Service, Integrated Policy and Review and the Critical Area Commission.[4]

Maryland Waters[edit]

Maryland is a state with many water resources, from the Chesapeake to the Potomac River. The Department of Natural Resources has been monitoring the water sources and the Chesapeake Bay and other assorted small streams since 1996. The goal is to manage the restoration and protection of these waterways and that ensures Maryland residents get clean water and can participate in activities such canoeing, fishing, and growing crops. DNR has a huge research and development team committed to providing the best and cleanest possible water sources. Many researched topics include geomorphic assessments, atmospheric and acid deposition, and long term water quality.[3]

Streams, Stream Life and Fishing[edit]

Streams stretch all over Maryland and contain many exotic species of fish and other water life. Maryland's streams' biodiversity does not end with just fish and birds but extends to salamanders, mussels, 10 types of turtles and over 100 species of fish. Plants and vegetation surrounding the aquatic habitats provide nutrients, shelter for animals, temperature regulation and can provide erosion control. DNR has established groups to survey all streams and wildlife. One of these groups is Monitoring and Non-Tidal Assessment (MANTA) and another is the state's portion of the National Rivers and Streams Assessment (managed nationally by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Both actively participate in keeping aquatic areas clean and safe. Both of these organizations have websites and statistics on the previous reports of the health of Maryland streams and waters. DNR recognizes both commercial and non commercial fishing and keeps reports of the breeds and sizes of fish caught on their website.[3]


The DNR offers many boating services to people of all ages and types of boaters including paddle, sailing, and power boats. Boating programs are financed completely through the DNR Waterway Improvement Fund and have now developed over 300 public boating areas throughout Maryland. The revenue that is acquired from this fund comes from a 5 percent vessel tax that is paid when anyone titles a vessel in the state of Maryland.[3]

Natural Resources Police[edit]

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police is the law enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources. Natural Resources Police Officers patrol state-owned lands and enforce conservation and boating laws as well as Maryland's Criminal Law and Transportation Article. Additional services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, and educational programs.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DNR (2007). "Annual Report 2007-2008." Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine Document no. DNR01-1242007-184. pp. 5-6.
  2. ^ "MDE Organizational Guide" (PDF). Baltimore, MD: Maryland Department of the Environment. 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Annapolis, Maryland. (2014). "Department of Natural Resources."
  4. ^ a b c DNR (7/1/2014). "DNR Organizational Chart."
  5. ^ DNR. Natural Resources Police (2014). "Natural Resources Police."

External links[edit]