News from the DNR Office of Communications

Maryland Park Service Announces Increased Access For Pets To State Parks

Annapolis, MD (April 7, 2010) — The Maryland Park Service (MPS) is pleased to announce the implementation of a new Pet Policy for Maryland State Parks. The new policy will provide expanded access for park visitors to enjoy the outdoors with their pets while ensuring that all visitors have a safe and enjoyable park experience.

“This is a great opportunity to open State Parks to more Marylanders who include a pet in their family,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina. “We have worked hard to listen to all of our visitors, creating an improved pet policy which will offer more to people who already love our parks, support responsible pet ownership and help us welcome new customers to some of Maryland’s most beautiful natural areas.”

The revised policy, available on the MPS website, will take effect in stages; the first phase will begin on April 9, 2010 and the second phase will become effective on the day after Labor Day or October 1, 2010, depending on the park.

The MPS proposed revisions to the existing pet policy last year and began taking public comments in October 2009. The revised policy includes guidelines that apply to all State Parks in Maryland as well as park-specific regulations that were devised to allow greater pet access in areas with appropriate facilities and activities. As outlined in the attached chart, the following summarizes the affect of the policy changes:

  • six new camping areas were opened for pet access
  • twelve State Park day-use areas will now be open to pets on a year-round basis
  • an additional twelve State Park day-use areas will provide seasonal pet access outside of the summer season
  • eight State Parks that were previously closed to pets will now provide pet access opportunities,
  • all undeveloped areas within State Parks, which have historically been available to pet owners, will remain open to pet access.

Pet access remains prohibited from certain facilities, such as visitor centers and playgrounds, and other facilities at the discretion of the Park manager. Service animals will still be allowed in all areas open to their owners.

Existing regulations requiring that all pets be leashed and that owners clean up after their pets will remain in place. Pet owners are asked to exercise responsible pet ownership ethics and bring their own disposal bags needed to pick-up after their pets and to keep their parks clean. Waste disposal containers will be provided in high-use park areas.

The public can learn more about the new MPS Pet Policy and its application in specific state parks on MPS’s website.

   April 7, 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