News from the DNR Office of Communications

Governor Martin O'Malley Proclaims June 27th As Great American Backyard Campout Day In Maryland

Annapolis, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley today proclaimed Saturday, June 27th as Great American Backyard Campout Day to encourage children and families to embark on an outdoor adventure either in their favorite state park, a private campground or in their own backyard.

“This is the best time of year for Maryland families to enjoy the natural resources our state has to offer,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Marylanders should take some time to share nature with their children, either through the state’s affordable state parks and forests, or even in their backyards.”

Camping is a fun outdoor activity that can double as an opportunity for environmental education, teaching children about the importance, beauty and need to protect our natural resources. Spending time outdoors is the best way for people of all ages to develop a connection to nature and enhance their respect for our natural environment. Families that challenge themselves to leave no trace and minimize their impacts while camping also learn how to become better stewards of the land.

“Our state parks have many opportunities to camp under the stars and immerse yourself in Maryland’s natural wonders,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin. “Last year, 766,700 campers took advantage of all the overnight amenities Maryland State Parks have to offer.”

Maryland’s state parks, forests and other public lands offer more than 2,340 affordable campsites and 129 cabins. Camping reservations can be made online at www.dnr.maryland.gov or by calling 1-888-432-2267.

To further improve and expand outdoor recreation opportunities and environmental conservation, Governor O’Malley expanded the Civic Justice Corps (CJC). The CJC offers meaningful summer conservation work for at-risk youth and this summer is expanding to provide jobs for more than 260 youth in Baltimore, Howard and Prince George’s counties, in response to its very successful first year. Crews will participate in resource conservation, trail maintenance and tree plantings, with training focused on team building and job skills.

To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under the initiative, which is now being used as a national model, the Governor created the Maryland Civic Justice Corps and recently issued the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. A plan to implement the Partnership’s Report and Recommendations – presented to Governor O’Malley in April -- is under development. During the 2009 legislative session, the O’Malley-Brown Administration secured record funding for Maryland’s #1 ranked public schools for the third consecutive year, with an investment of more than $5.5 billion.

For more information about Great American Campout Day visit www.backyardcampout.org.


   June 25, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

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 www.dnr.maryland.gov