General Assembly Passes Legislation Designating 22,000 State Acres as “Wildlands”

An April 2 Frederick News-Post article reported that the General Assembly has passed legislation ( SB 336) sponsored by the O’Malley Administration that would designate approximately 22,000 State-owned acres as “wildlands.”  In late 2013, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposed the creation or expansion of new wildland areas in nine counties and held a series of public hearings on the issue.  Wildlands are State-owned lands that have retained their wilderness character and contain important ecological features.  Lands designated as wildlands may only be used for passive recreational purposes, such as hiking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, or horseback riding.  SB 336 would increase the amount of existing wildlands by almost 50 percent.  From the News-Post article:

The Maryland House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill designating almost 22,000 acres as state wildlands, where commercial activities are restricted. Delegate Patrick Hogan, who reviewed the legislation in the House Environmental Matters Committee, said he supported the proposal to preserve natural areas in Frederick County and elsewhere in the state.

“There are lands that should be protected, and there are lands that the next generation should be able to enjoy as well,” said Hogan, R-District 3A.  …

After the House voted 106-29 to approve the legislation, Gov. Martin O’Malley said that he planned to approve the bill.

“Maryland’s Wildlands are the last remaining untouched landscapes and waterways of their kind, supporting sensitive ecosystems and many rare and vanishing plants and animals,” O’Malley said in a statement.

The article also noted that some Western Maryland lawmakers expressed concern about the designation restricting too much land in their districts.

April 1 Baltimore Sun Coverage

Prior Conduit Street Coverage