News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Reminds Outdoor Enthusiasts Of Alcohol Policy On Public Lands

Maryland Park Service saw a reduction of alcohol related incidents in 2009; Policy now in effect in state forests

Annapolis, MD (March 26, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has completed phasing in new restrictions regarding consumption of alcohol on all public lands, including State Parks and State Forests, as an agency-wide policy. In keeping with department-wide policy, consuming alcoholic beverages on Wildlife Management Areas is not also allowed. DNR reminds campers and outdoor enthusiasts to adhere to the new policies, to help preserve the family friendly atmosphere of those areas.

The new policy has increased safety in Maryland parks and brought the State’s alcohol policy in line with that of parks in neighboring states. Natural Resources Police will continue to focus on educating the public to the new regulations in state forests, as NRP did in State Parks.

“The first phase of the expanded alcohol policy went pretty smoothly. Our visitors accept and understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Nita Settina, Maryland Park Service superintendent. “We saw a significant reduction in serious alcohol-related incidents in our picnic areas and beaches; we anticipate the same positive effect in our campgrounds.”

In 2009, DNR worked to inform the public about the new policy -- which prohibits the use of alcohol without a permit on Maryland State lands, except in full service cabins -- through multi-lingual signs, multi-lingual brochures, notification on DNR’s website, on-site education by Park Rangers and Natural Resources Police, and communication through the reservation service.

With the ultimate goal of maximizing voluntary compliance, Natural Resources Police monitored all park properties with a special focus on day-use areas, campgrounds and other areas where alcoholic beverages had previously been permitted. Officers advised visitors in possession of alcohol outside of permitted areas to remove all alcoholic beverages from the park or to secure them in a locked vehicle. Visitors are allowed to transport unopened alcoholic beverages through a park to areas where alcohol is permitted, such as a boat launch or designated shelter. Park Rangers made those in violation of the policy aware of the new restrictions and requested that they voluntarily comply with the new rules.

The following policy and additional restrictions were phased in over the course of 2009:

Effective March 31, 2009
• The consumption or possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage of any kind was prohibited in all Maryland State Park day-use areas, beach areas and other areas with picnic tables not associated with a designated shelter or campground area, unless an alcohol permit had been issued.

• Alcoholic beverages remained prohibited in youth group camping areas.

• As part of the phased-in policy, alcoholic beverages continued to be permitted in campgrounds, shelters and full service cabins.

• Alcohol permits were issued upon request by the park manager for special events operating under a use agreement.

Effective November 1, 2009
• The consumption or possession of an open container of any alcoholic beverage is now prohibited in all Maryland State Park areas and public lands, INCLUDING STATE FORESTS, with the exception of full-service cabins, unless an alcohol permit has been issued.

• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in State Park and State Forest campgrounds and at non-designated shelters.

• Alcohol permits will only be issued through a reservation for a designated shelter or other facility approved by the Maryland Park Service Superintendent or Director of the Maryland Forest Service.

• A fee of $35.00 will be charged for each alcohol permit in State Parks. For State Forests, the fee will be phased in during 2010.

• Alcohol permits may be issued upon request by the park or forest manager for special events operating under a Use Agreement.

• An alcohol permit may be revoked for cause by the park or forest manager, their designee or a Natural Resources Police officer.

   March 26, 2010

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

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 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