Fun Fact: Which County is the Home of Maryland’s First State Park?

Patapsco Valley State Park in Howard County has the distinction of being Maryland’s first state park. April 10-16, 2021 is the first Maryland State Parks Week, so we’re celebrating with a fun fact on state parks!

By the 1900s, Maryland’s forest reserves were in deplorable condition. Loss of wildlife habitats, erosion, forest fires, and depleting woodland were among the main contributors of the need for forest conservation. As a solution to this growing problem, the Maryland Legislature passed a law in 1906 creating the State Board of Forestry. It called for an official State forester to execute the will of the legislature under direction of the Board of Forestry.

Fred W. Besley, Maryland’s 1st State Forester, surveying – Courtesy MD DNR

The following year, local philanthropist John Glenn donated 43 acres of his estate to the newly established Board which was originally called the Patapsco Forest Reserve. By 1910, Maryland’s appointed first State forester, F.W. Besley, had informally named the area “Patapsco Park.” By 1912, a portion of that forest/park had been developed and dedicated specifically for public recreational use, laying the foundation for today’s Maryland State Park System.

Interested in learning more about Maryland’s conservation history and state parks? Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website.

Do you have a fun fact to share about your county? If so, please send it to Allison Valliant to be featured in MACo’s weekly Fun Fact on Conduit Street.

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