News from the DNR Office of Communications

Governor O'Malley Announces BPW Approval Of Pocomoke Wetlands Acquisition

Annapolis, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the Board of Public Works (BPW) approval of the acquisition of 290 acres of forested wetland property located on the mainstream Pocomoke River in Somerset County through funding from Program Open Space and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

“I am thrilled with the extraordinary location and environmental value of this property,” said Governor O’Malley. “The acquisition will preserve the natural legacy of Pocomoke River Watershed and contribute to Maryland’s quest for protecting water quality, wildlife and our natural areas for future generations.”

Today, the BPW approved the acquisition of 290 acres of forested wetland located on the mainstream Pocomoke River directly across from Pocomoke State Forest. Uplands adjacent to this property serve as a Delmarva fox squirrel translocation site, and there are three bald eagle nests directly across the river from this property. The forested bottomlands of the Pocomoke River Watershed support numerous locally and nationally rare species, including the Swainson’s warbler, the Delmarva fox squirrel and bald eagle, and serve as important stopover and nesting habitats for neotropical migrants, waterbirds, shorebirds, including the wood duck and American black duck. This parcel lies within the designated Pocomoke River Focus Area and the Target Ecological Area (TEA) and has received an ecological ranking of 93 under the new Program Open Space Targeting System.

The property was purchased through a special $97,798 Program Open Space Acquisition Opportunity Loan of 2009 as provided in Chapter 419 of the Laws of Maryland 2009 and from funding from the USFWS. The State of Maryland and the Nature Conservancy (TNC), working in partnership with USFWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office, has secured two Federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants in the total amount of $1,448,727 to protect and restore eight properties on the Pocomoke River, including this acquisition. USFWS will provide matching funds in the amount of $308,202 at settlement in accordance with the NAWCA Grant. The property will be owned and managed by the Pocomoke State Forest following its purchase.

The Pocomoke River originates in Delaware and flows south through Wicomico, Worchester and Somerset Counties in Maryland prior to discharging into the Chesapeake Bay in the Tangier Sound.

Since 2007, Governor O'Malley and the BPW preserved more than 23,434 acres of natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland. Since 1969, Program Open Space has provided funding for acquisition of 342,009 acres for open space and recreation areas. Most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded Program Open Space.

The three-member Board of Public Works is comprised of Governor O’Malley (chair), Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultant contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement actions.

   June 18, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at