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DNR Honors Originator Of Program Open Space

Dedicates Rosaryville State Park day-use area to Fred Eskew

red Eskew's nephew, Patrick Bright, Jr., manager of Rosaryville State Park.

Prince Georges County, Md. (April 26, 2012) - Friends, family and colleagues gathered on Earth Day to honor the life and legacy of Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) innovator Fred Eskew, at a ceremony in Rosaryville on what would have been his 74th birthday. Eskew, who passed away in 1986, worked tirelessly to help protect Maryland’s natural areas and resources, forever influencing the future of land conservation.

“Many people leave us too early, never realizing their goals. But during his all too short existence, he accomplished enough for several lifetimes over,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin, colleague and longtime friend. “For more than a quarter century Fred’s career followed his heart, supporting recreation and land preservation in Maryland.”

On April 22, the Department dedicated Rosaryville State Park’s day-use area as a memorial to Eskew’s life and conservation efforts.

Eskew’s nephew and Rosaryville State Park manager Patrick Bright, Jr. hosted the event. Secretary Griffin and Superintendent Nita Settina spoke at the dedication, which was attended by many family members including Eskew’s four children. 

Eskew worked to support recreation and land preservation in Maryland through his efforts for Prince Georges and Charles Counties, his tenure as President of the Maryland Parks and Recreation Association, and his State service as Director of Program Open Space, Assistant Secretary for Capital Programs and the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officer.

“At DNR, Fred’s vision, grit and determination set the stage for our preservation efforts today,” said former DNR Secretary Torrey Brown. “More than any one person in our State’s history, Fred was responsible for creating the innovative, highly successful Program Open Space.”

Established in 1969, Program Open Space impacts everyone who visits or lives in Maryland to this day. The program has been a national model for land preservation, helping fund the purchase of more than 2,200 local parks and recreation areas and more than 90,000 acres of State lands. Before the benefits of stream buffers were ever documented, he recognized the connection between human activity and water quality, placing an emphasis on buying land along local stream valley parks.

Among his many other achievements, Eskew also started the Natural Heritage Program to protect rare, threatened and endangered plants and wildlife, started an In-House construction crew, who to this day tackle the most challenging and complex construction and renovation projects. He partnered with the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland to plan and develop the Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden, a monument to Maryland’s diverse landscape and helped preserve Belt Woods in Prince Georges County, a National Landmark and one of the oldest stands of oak and poplar in Maryland. Fred was also instrumental in preserving the land at Rosaryville that now bears his name.

   April 26, 2012

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

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million 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 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at