Advancing DEIJ Through Mission Related Work:
By building relationships with underrepresented groups, including but not limited to communities of color and low income neighborhoods; incorporating community leaders’ input into decision-making and implementation; advancing DEIJ in strategies and plans; implementation of restoration activities and grantmaking; and elevating and prioritizing DEIJ in outreach, materials, activities and events.
Regional and Statewide Partnerships
The Maryland Park Service has an affiliated foundation agreement with the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, which guides collaborative efforts at State parks. This close partnership with the tribe affords free use of park facilities for tribal education, meetings, gatherings, and religious ceremonies. They are also notified of employment opportunities, particularly for youth. The MPS routinely avails itself of tribal expertise and guidance when creating interpretive materials and related programs. In 2022, the MPS is providing grant funding to support St. Mary’s College of Maryland in archeological digs designed to research the Piscataway Conoy. MPS is working closely with the college and the tribe by supporting archaeological digs that will take place at St. Clements Island, Newtowne Neck, and Chapel Point State Parks. The information gained from these efforts will be utilized by MPS staff to better interpret Indigenous culture and history.
- The Maryland Park Service's “Interpreting Difficult Histories Team” forged an important, fruitful relationship with the
Baltimore Afro American, the longest-running, family-owned African-American newspaper in the country. The publication's archives afford the MPS information and images that are important to our missions of education and inclusion.
- The Maryland Park Service partners with Outdoor Afro, a national African-American organization that develops Black leadership in connecting African Americans to open spaces, and GirlTrek, a worldwide network of Black women who seek to improve health and healing through hiking and walking
- The theme for the 2021 Maryland Water Monitoring Conference, coordinated by the Resource Assessment Service, was Environmental Justice and featured Dr.Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland Associate Professor and Director of Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health, as the keynote speaker. Three conference sessions were held that directly connected to environmental justice from a variety of perspectives. Maryland Water Monitoring Council also actively seeks to work more closely with professionals and students of color by partnering with local historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and has set these institutions as the desired locations for future training.
The Maryland Forest Service is advancing DEIJ through the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement Goals for Tree Canopy and Forest Buffer and the 2020-2025 Forest Action Plan by developing planting programs and locating planting areas that address urban heat island effect and underserved communities. In addition, programs and partnerships are being developed to expand training for green jobs and expand quality contractors available for tree planting and maintenance.
- Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP): As a jurisdictional CBP partner, all “Action Statements”, “Directives” and commitments related to the “2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement” are applicable to all Maryland state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Action Statement, Chesapeake Bay Program Principals’ Staff Committee
Ongoing leadership in the CBP Diversity steering committee and workgroup and CBP’s DEIJ Action Team to ensure on time delivery of the DEIJ Plan to the Principle Steering Committee by end of October, 2021
Chesapeake Executive Council, Directive No. 21-1 Collective Action for Climate Change
- Work partnership-wide to ensure the science, restoration and programs equitably address the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, including indigenous people, historically underrepresented communities, those of lower economic status and people of color, considering existing social, economic and health disparities.
Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC): DNR is an appointed state agency member of the Commission and all actions of the Commission are applicable to DNR. The following highlights actions areas related to DEIJ initiatives.
Education Communications & Outreach (ECO) Work Group: directs action to address any disproportionate impacts of climate change on disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
Adaptation and Resiliency Work Group (ARWG): DNR chairs and manages the workgroup which will ensure the next generation of adaptation strategies considers and integrates diversity and environmental justice knowledge, work and principles. The Adaptation Framework Project is being led by the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Focus Area group identified JEDI principles essential to include in adaptation and climate programming going forward. It also developed strategies and associated actions to be prioritized for the next 10 years of state adaptation work. . In addition, the current work plan prioritizes the continued coordination with other MCCC working groups and engaging environmental justice partners, including the
Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (CEJSC), to ensure that we thoroughly and meaningfully integrate environmental justice, diversity and inclusion into all of our programming and initiatives.
Mitigation Working Group (MWG): Appointed DNR agency representative. Notable highlights include implementing the MCCC’s approach to Environmental and Climate Justice, including bringing a greater diversity of voices into the MWG and its processes, and addressing justice in all the MWG’s work products.
- Climate Justice Advisory Committee: Appointed workgroup representatives in the MCCC’s new subgroup on climate justice to ensure integration of Commission’s approach, activities and deliverables. Formed in 2021.
Envision the Choptank: DNR serves on both the Steering Committee and the Underserved Communities workgroup. This workgroup is charged with working with local organizations and community members to identify needs and brainstorm ways to elevate underserved community voices in the Choptank watershed.
Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition: The Department is working with the
Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition - a regional coalition of governmental, non-governmental and community based organizations - to coordinate community health, resilience and green infrastructure efforts in Central Maryland with a focus on equitable community access and engagement.
Next Generation of Environmental Stewards
- The Maryland Forestry Service in implementing the new Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021 and the 5 Million Tree Initiative, is advertising numerous new seasonal positions, which will represent the diversity of the state. The initiative also requires 500,000 trees to be planted in specific urban areas statewide.
- A plan to recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) anglers in Maryland was approved by the Secretary in February of 2022. Objective 2 in the plan is to “promote the inclusion of all Maryland anglers.”
- The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation will be providing a fishing tackle trailer and tackle to use at Maryland fishing events. They will be partnering with USFWS Patuxent Wildlife Refuge to use this tackle trailer at eight urban fishing events a year.
- The Maryland Park Service hires, trains, and mentors Maryland Conservation Corps members, Veterans Conservation Corps members, seasonal contractual employees, and Conservation Jobs Corps members as a primary recruitment tool to prepare applicants to compete for full-time positions. MPS employs these candidates through a new internship program to provide on-the-job training and experience for candidates who are underrepresented in natural resources and are interested in future full-time employment. The Maryland Park Service invests $1M annually in the Maryland Conservation Corps, $1.3M annually in the Conservation Jobs Corps, and $250,000 annually in the Veteran Conservation Corps to employ a diverse workforce, increase natural resource career awareness and prepare future qualified applicants for full-time positions.
- The Maryland Forest Service has partnered with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to implement a Maryland Tree Stewards program. This program enables interested individuals to learn about trees, planting, and maintenance. Other programs such as NRCC (Natural Resources Career Camp) for upcoming seniors and the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster contest enable outreach to students.
Es Mi Parque is a program organized and managed by DNR staff (Office of Fair Practice, Parks, Fishing and Boating Services, Chesapeake & Coastal Service, and other units) and volunteers that aim to provide information and services to Spanish-speaking patrons and visitors of our public lands. These outreach efforts increase awareness of boating, fishing and water safety as well as state conservation laws and regulations. The Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives and the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs are partners. The
program was launched in 2017 and is on-going.
Project Green Classrooms: This initiative, launched by
Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.12, is co-chaired by DNR and the Maryland State Department of Education. It directs a coalition of government agencies and nonprofit partners to ensure that Maryland's youth experience, understand, and learn to conserve the natural environment with a focus on intentionally increasing equity and inclusion of young people in all communities. Highlights of the numerous efforts related to equity and inclusion, including the following:
- Equitable Access to Green Space: Addresses equitable access to parks and green space, working with communities and supported by the
Park Equity decision-support mapping application which was expanded to include environmental justice and health disparity data to bring more parks and green spaces to identified park-poor areas.
- Green Careers workgroup (Career Pathways): Continues to promote and share it’s
Youth and Young Professionals Portal on the Chesapeake Network, and is writing a Maryland
Conservation Careers Guide to connect 16-25 year olds with resources to support conservation careers.
Engaging Minority Youth and Families in Recreational Boating, Fishing and Aquatic Environmental Education: In partnership with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, funds
One More One Less Mentoring, Inc., a Baltimore City non-profit organization, to work with at-risk youth and multi-ethnic participants (i.e., Latine, Afro American, Asian American- immigrants, refugees', youth, families, and female social groups with little or no angling experience) and provide hands-on experiences and education.
Wetlands and Wildlife Field Day: Since 1998, this program annually celebrates the many ways we benefit from healthy, thriving, coastal ecosystems. Gathered by the water with every fourth grade student of Somerset County, rotates through six stations at the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area to learn about fish, waterfowl, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as wetland plants, and stewardship. Combined, these stations explore the richness and value of our coastal communities, and provide one of the only opportunities for outdoor learning and environmental education for fourth graders. With expertise and staffing from the Chesapeake and Coastal Service and Wildlife & Heritage units, and Chesapeake Bay National Research Reserve component sites (Jug Bay and Otter Point Creek), Wetlands and Wildlife Field Day is a great example how communities benefit when federal, state and local partners collaborate to raise awareness of the importance of estuaries.
Teen Leadership Paddle: Discovering Leadership and Nature Along the Patuxent: The Chesapeake Bay Research Reserve-MD, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and Patuxent River Park successfully co led their annual Teen Leadership camp summer on the Patuxent River (Explore the Patuxent: Teen Leadership Paddle). The five day/four night program geared towards high school students is designed to provide students an opportunity to participate in a week-long exploration of the Patuxent River while developing leadership skills that specifically pertain to issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Partnership with Maryland Conservation Corps: The Chesapeake and Coastal Service teamed up with the Maryland Conservation Corps--dedicated crews of young adults who improve public lands, restore the bay and educate others--to launch spring
restoration field project season. Working with the Assateague, Patapsco, Susquehanna and Tuckahoe crew members, staff planted dune grasses in several coastal bays locations, removing invasive plants at Corcoran Woods, and planted thousands of marsh grasses at
Conquest Beach. These projects not only provide habitat for migratory birds, herpa fauna and nesting turtles, but also help secure lands that work as natural filters for the Bay.
Advancing Equity through Restoration, Protection, Recreation, and Access:
Many of the Department’s implementation projects are located in underserved communities that occur both in urban and rural settings. Examples of current projects are provided below.
Middle Branch Restoration Project- Baltimore City. This large-scale community-led initiative to reconnect South Baltimore to the 11+ miles of shoreline along the Patapsco River involves economic development, community planning, and ecological restoration. Department staff are providing technical assistance through participation in work groups as well as funding support for a pilot project through the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund dollars will be used as a part of the match obligation of the project’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant from FEMA. In 2020 the Maryland Park Service provided a $250,000 grant to Parks and People Foundation to support this project.
Connecting Hispanic and Latin communities with the natural world. Maryland’s Coastal Program (CCS, NOAA) is partnering with
Defensores de la Cuenca to help the Latine community connect with the natural world through knowledge, shared experiences, and opportunities to preserve and defend the Chesapeake Bay watershed for a healthier mind, body, and soul. One of several initiatives spotlights working with the
Chesapeake Conservancy to deploy departmental bilingual rangers into some of the busiest coastal State Parks. In 2021, the bilingual rangers connected with over 1,000 Spanish-speaking visitors to increase safety, enhance programming, and further stewardship of Maryland’s natural resources and the Chesapeake Bay. There are also Spanish language signs/banners throughout State parks, bilingual interpretive displays at the new Sandy Point State Park Nature Center which opened in April 2022 and the Junior Rangers Booklet is available in Spanish to cultivate interest in youth.
Maryland Park Service regularly invests in Americans with Disabilities Act infrastructure upgrades to cabins and other recreation infrastructure such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center’s Braille interpretive displays.
Patuxent River State Park, in Montgomery County, is implementing an interpretive project to preserve the history of Enoch George Howard and the Howard Family. Enoch George was born into slavery in 1814, and in 1857 he was able to purchase freedom for himself, his wife, and their five children. A Recreational Trail Grant is being used to create a new two-mile trail. $100,000 in bond funding was recently provided to stabilize the Greenbury Howard House, and a $100,000 African American Heritage Preservation Program grant was recently approved for the trail project.
- PowerPlant Research program has a contract with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to investigate the utilization of pollinator habitat by insects in and around the solar array located on their campus. Powerplant Research Program also has a contract with Morgan State University to support radionuclide monitoring in oysters around Calvert Cliffs Nuclear powerplant.
- DNR’s Office of Communication serves as an ongoing resource to DNR departments by providing web, print, and media relations services. These include assisting in the creation and implementation of bilingual resources for services offered by other departments (parks, licensing services, etc.) DNR’s website also offers immediate translation of its content simply by clicking “Translate” on the top right-hand corner of any web page. Over 50 languages are available through this feature.
- In 2020 Fishing and Boating Services used Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation grant funding to launch a digital marketing campaign that included a Spanish language component. As part of this campaign a new
Spanish language fishing page was launched. This page provides Spanish-speaking customers with links to fishing regulations and information. This grant was also used to translate the fishing license portion of the COMPASS license sales portal to Spanish to remove the language barrier for our fishing license customers. Recreational Fishing Guide and Licensing available en Español.
- The Office of Outdoor Recreation has met with several small businesses, including High Mountain Sports, TrailWerks Cyclery, and Wheelzup Adventures and discussed the importance of equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities and how the protection of land goes hand in hand with outdoor recreation. OOR believes that the more people who experience recreational opportunities outdoors will want to preserve that land to continue to enjoy it.
- Program Open Space Stateside, Program Open Space Local, and Local Parks and Playgrounds Infrastructure grants were awarded to the City of Annapolis to acquire 5.16 acres for a new waterfront park. The unimproved parcel is mostly wooded and contains over 300 feet of sandy beach area with direct waterfront access to the Chesapeake Bay. This addition will provide opportunities for walking paths and public water access where public water access is currently limited. This acquisition will also protect an unimproved parcel from development, as well as preserve a historical site where African Americans gathered in the 1930s through the 1960s for concerts by world-renowned artists, cultural events, and family outings.
- The Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area was designated in 2018 to conserve and protect the landscape associated with Harriet Tubman’s life and work on the Underground Railroad. The area is a partnership between the State of Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources, and The Conservation Fund. The 28,300-acre area includes farmland, woodland, and natural and historic landscapes associated with the legacy of Harriet Tubman and the history of the Underground Railroad. Within this landscape, one can see physical features that contributed to the success of Harriet Tubman, and it is her association with these working landscapes that make these areas especially important to the Rural Legacy Area Program. This new Rural Legacy Area provides an opportunity to conserve lands containing and surrounding historic monuments such as the Brodess Farm, Polish Mills, the Bucktown Store, Malone’s Church, James Cook Site, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. It is also adjacent to the approximately 28,000-acre Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and complements federal land conservation efforts in the area. The Conservation Fund has received grant funds totaling over $2 million to purchase conservation easements within the designated Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area.
Greensboro Volunteer Fire Department Stormwater Management: The project will provide environmental benefits to a low-income community. Greensboro has a median household income, approximately 50% of the State’s median household income, and approximately 20% of its population lives at or below poverty level. The Town also is located in an area ranked high on the Social Vulnerability Index. It involves the construction of a regenerative stormwater conveyance system, restoration and planting of a vegetated swale, and invasive species removal/conservation plantings with native shrubs and grasses to provide treatment and reduction of stormwater runoff from a highly developed property located directly on the banks of the Choptank River. The proposed Best Management Practices (BMP)will provide enhanced resiliency to increased precipitation events and demonstrate the effectiveness of urban stormwater BMPs on a site that is highly impervious and easily accessed by the public.
North County Park Water Quality Improvement: . The towns of Henderson, Marydel, and Templeville are among the 10 poorest towns in Maryland . The County’s northern region also is home to a growing population of Hispanic and Latino households . The project at North County Park involves the construction of Delmarva Bay wetlands, stream and wetland restoration, and regenerative stormwater conveyance system and log boulder structures to provide capture and treatment of runoff before it reaches the Choptank River. The proposed BMPs will restore degraded stream channels, provide enhanced resiliency to increased precipitation events, and create and re-establish non-tidal wetlands.
Baltimore Tree Trust FY21 Projects: Increase urban tree canopy in Baltimore City and County's medium to high target watersheds by planting 6,000 shovel ready trees. Baltimore Tree Trust(BTT) is planting street trees, medians, and golf courses in Baltimore City leveraging the City's Street Tree Inventory. The Department will help three localities comply with the MS4 requirements and leverage match from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and the Maryland Port Administration. BTT will also engage volunteers and students in the planting and maintenance of these trees and directly improve the environment for residents while greening over major gateways in Baltimore City. This initiative will remove impervious surfaces in Baltimore's most urbanized watersheds and support an equitable expansion of Baltimore's tree canopy by strategically targeting planting opportunities in neighborhoods that have historically only been marginally included in the city's urban forest.
42nd Place Submerged Gravel Wetland: The purpose of this project is to construct a submerged gravel wetland along 42nd Place in Hyattsville, MD, to help alleviate localized flooding while capturing and treating polluted stormwater runoff in a highly impervious part of the community. This project was identified as a priority for near-term implementation in the Lower Ward 1 Resilient Stormwater Planning Study, which was funded by the Maryland Community Resilience Grant Program. Its design and permitting is currently being funded by a DNR Resiliency through Restoration Initiative grant. This submerged gravel wetland will incorporate native wetland plants to create habitat and improve community aesthetics. This project will also serve as a precedent for future green infrastructure projects in Hyattsville and neighboring areas.
Creating the Community's Ribbon of Green to Reduce Stormwater Runoff and Non-Point Source Pollution in the Druid Heights Neighborhood: To reduce stormwater runoff and the amount of trash, nutrients and sediment flowing in the Lower Jones Falls watershed, the grant will fund the removalof asphalt from the street at the 2200 block of Etting Street and its three alleys, which are located in the Druid Heights neighborhood. According to the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, the Druid Heights neighborhood is experiencing 23% unemployment. Druid Heights' demographics is 80.3% black, 7.4% white and 4.6% Asian. The median household income for Druid Heights is $30,822 in comparison with the national average being $55,322. Approximately 71% of its properties are occupied with renters, with 29% of the community's residential properties being owner-occupied.
Eagle Harbor Stormwater Design: The goal of this project is to increase the resilience of residential and transportation infrastructure to stormwater flooding, erosion and associated threats through the design of a floodplain reconnection in conjunction with stream enhancement and stabilization, vegetative enhancement, shoreline enhancement, and hybrid practices. The resulting design specifications and permits will support stream and shoreline enhancement construction.
Deal Island Peninsula Project: Collaborated with the University of Maryland and the Deal Island community to assess the vulnerabilities and identify ways to increase local resilience. The Deal Island community in Somerset County identified a rapidly eroding shoreline that was putting the peninsula at risk to greater flood impacts. This project was designed to prevent a shoreline breach while restoring historic dune features. Construction of a permitted living shoreline with restored dunes and offshore breakwaters began in July 2021.
Hurst Creek Coastal Resiliency Project: Hurst Creek is located east of Cambridge and feeds the Choptank River in Dorchester County. As the creek’s natural barrier diminished, the adjacent wetlands became more exposed to tidal currents and wave action, threatening the community of Bonnie Brook. A permitted living shoreline with climate-resilient natural features will be constructed along the mouth of Hurst Creek.
Green Infrastructure Project Connects Human, Environmental Health: The Chesapeake Bay Trust, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Chesapeake Bay Program, MedStar Harbor Hospital, Blue Water Baltimore, and Plisko Sustainable Solutions designed nine green infrastructure facilities with funds awarded from the
Watershed Assistance Grant Program. This jointly-supported program will be providing local, on-the-ground solutions to water quality issues through 15 grants this year. The MedStar project is the next step in a long-term plan to reduce runoff and flooding on the hospital’s grounds. The facilities will treat 18 acres of impervious surface, which currently discharges stormwater into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. The project will also create green spaces that can be used by patients and even be prescribed by doctors to allow recovering patients to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.
Strengthening connection to HBCUs
- Maryland Park Service and other DNR staff seek to connect with young professionals by attending HBCU job fairs and other events such as the annual UMCES diversity and inclusion event. Several units, including Resource Assessment Service, intentionally advertise open job positions to HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and first nation (tribal) universities. These positions are posted through the
State website and also through a diverse email list distributed by unit members.
- The Office of Outdoor Recreation will be working with minority businesses and HBCUs for the advancement of outdoor recreation opportunities at universities along with assistance in job opportunities in the outdoor recreation sector across the state.
- Maryland Geological Survey is currently exploring contracts with HBCUs for GIS capabilities in assembling the Bay Bottom map which will expand DNR capacity and professional partnerships with diverse communities.
- MET hires and trains all volunteers that would like to help steward MET easements within the State of Maryland. MET also partners with the Service and Volunteerism unit in the Governor's office and brings on an Americorp member annually to help with the Volunteer program at MET. In partnering with Service and Volunteerism, MET has been able to help young women and men learn about stewarding land, work with local land trusts, and help them move on to a career that fits their background. We plan to continue to do this annually.