Foreword - Maryland's Remarkable History
Throughout time, favorable climate and fertile soils supported rich and diverse forests across what we now call Maryland. These forests have been influenced by people for as many as 8,000 years. Beginning in the late 1600's, European settlers began changing the landscape dramatically.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, several events occurred that influenced the forests we see today. During this time vast acreages of pastures and croplands were abandoned for many reasons. Improved transportation provided access to more fertile land in the Midwest. Advanced agricultural techniques increased crop yields so that fewer acres were needed to produce the same amount of crops. Logging for fuelwood, rail ties, and construction lumber depleted forests of healthy and high quality trees. Finally, hot fires raged out of control killing most trees and other plants left after logging.
New forests began to grow on these lands. The abandoned agricultural lands were first covered by meadows, then shrubs and small trees, and then today's forest became established. New forests became established on cut-over or burned lands within a relatively short period of time. Now, most of these forests are between 70 and 110 years old, or approximately the same age.
These events took place across the entire northeastern United States. The forests we see are a reflection of past cutting practices, as well as the resiliency of nature. We will continue to influence the forest. Our charge is to do so responsibly.