Annual Work Plans
The Chesapeake Forest Lands are most of the former land holdings of the
Chesapeake Forest Products Company, comprised of 238 parcels totaling more than
58,000 acres in five lower Eastern Shore counties. These lands make up 12
percent of the productive forests in the region, which in the past produced
15-20 percent of the region's annual timber harvest. In 1999, the State
purchased 29,000 acres and The Conservation Fund, on behalf of the Richard King
Mellon Foundation purchased 29,000 acres.
In December of 2000, The Conservation Fund transferred the deeds on their
29,000 acres to the State with a state-of-the-art sustainable forest management
plan, which the State has agreed to implement as a condition of the gift. This
gift and the management plan are intended to be a national model of
public/private partnership, sustainable forestry and ecosystem management on
Since the date of the original land acquisition Chesapeake Forest has increased in size to 73,723 acres. This has occurred through the inclusion of several new forested tracts,
two of which are existing department properties Wicomico Demonstration Forest in Wicomico County and Seth Demonstration Forest in Talbot County. Other sites added to the Forest are several new
land purchases, a listing of these tracts can be found in Appendix “K” of the Sustainable Forest Management Plan.
In the summer of 2003, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources conducted
a resource inventory of the entire 58,000 acre forest, collecting information on
everything from timber volumes and growth rates to sensitive species
information. In addition, the Department took the Sustainable Management Plan
that covered the gifted half of the property and has redeveloped this plan to
cover the entire forest. The work on the new plan began back in the spring of
2002 with the implementation of a public planning process and was completed in
July 2007 with a final review of the draft plan by the
Chesapeake Forest citizen advisory committee. During the public planning process
an assessment of all the resources on the property was conducted and restoration
opportunities were identified. Since the official adoption of the Sustainable Plan in 2007, several revisions have occurred, the most recent in November of 2013. These revisions are mostly based on findings from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® - C016194) and Sustainable Forest Initiative® (SFI® -00050) annual audits and from the addition of new acreage to the Forest. The 2013 Sustainable Forest Management Plan - Public Summary is available for review on this website; in addition to the current version of the Sustainable Plan.
Why did the State and The Conservation Fund buy
To protect Maryland's natural resources
Including the more than 11,000
acres of wetlands, and more than 53,000 acres of forests, which are important
habitat for interior forest dwelling birds and threatened and endangered
species, and the largest collection of properties for upland game on the Eastern
To maintain the rural character, economy and the
heritage of the region
By protecting shoreline
on five river systems and are part of 23 watersheds, offering opportunities for
watershed improvements, wetland creation, increasing streamside buffers and
restoration of native plant communities. To expand opportunities for public access
By making appropriate new areas
available for outdoor recreation including resource-based activities like
hunting, fishing, hiking, birding and canoeing.
What is sustainable forestry?
Sustainable forestry is a broad term for management techniques that respect
the full range of environmental, social, and economic values of the forest, and
seek to meet today's needs without losing any of those values. Sustainable
forests maintain all components (trees, shrubs, flowers, birds, fish, wildlife,
etc.) as well as ecological processes (nutrient recycling, water and air
purification, ground water recharge, etc.) so they can remain healthy and
vibrant into the future. A basic part of sustainable forestry is adaptive
management, which means that forest managers watch and monitor the forest
carefully so that, if future conditions change and the forest shows signs of
stress or decline, new management actions can help restore sustainable
In June of 2004, the 29,000 acres on the gifted half of Chesapeake Forest
Lands was the first piece of public property in the State of Maryland to be dual
certified as a Sustainable Forest under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The certification process involved a
very detailed review of the entire project by a third party auditor. In the spring of 2005
dual certification under both (SFI) and (FSC) was achieved for the entire 59,000 acre
Chesapeake Forest. This certification was modified during the annual audit in April 2017 to include additional acreage which now totals 73,723 acres. In order to
be granted certification status, Chesapeake Forest Lands had to meet specific
standards of both organizations. Detailed information about each organization (SFI)
and (FSC) can be obtained from their respective websites.
Horseback riding is allowed on maintained forest trails and roads designed to accommodate recreational use. Many of the Public Use tracts have parking areas that can accommodate horse trailers.
Where are the Chesapeake Forest Lands located?
Will the public be involved in decisions regarding
the future use and management of Chesapeake Forest Lands?
The Department will involve all individuals and groups interested in the use
and management of the land. A variety of methods will be used to receive public
input including public meetings, group meetings, and the solicitation of verbal
and written comments. The public's comments will be considered as plans are
developed for resource management, watershed enhancement, facility development
or public use. If you or your group would like to be involved in the planning
process, please write to Donald VanHassent, Director / State Forester, Tawes State Office Building E-1, 580 Taylor
Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401, or email him:
How will income from the lands be used?
Revenue generated from the Chesapeake Forest Lands will pay for management,
restoration and enhancement of these lands.
Interested in the Public Hunting or
the Hunting lease Program?
The 2002 General Assembly directed DNR "to open to public hunting at least half the total acreage that is leased for hunting to private individuals on the properties known as the Chesapeake Forest Lands by the 2005-2006 hunting season." (Chapter 177, section 3, 2002 Maryland Laws). Lands currently open to public hunting are located here: (https://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/chesapeakeforests-maps-directions.aspx). Additional information about hunting on Chesapeake Forest is located here (https://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/chesapeakeforests-hunting.aspx). Sign up to our notification list if you would like to receive occasional emails regarding information specific to Chesapeake Forest hunting news and issues. Questions regarding land management and hunting on Chesapeake Forest Lands should be directed to Denise Snyder, at 410-632-3732, firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I do if there are problems or suspicious
activities on the leased lands?
Suspected criminal activity (trespassing, poaching, etc.) should be reported to
the Natural Resources Police, at Hillsborough by calling 410-758-2890 (for
Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties) or Salisbury by calling 410-548-7070
(for Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties).
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)