Chesapeake Forest Lands

Demonstration Forests

Besley Demonstration Forest SignageFred W. Besley Demonstration Forest

This property totals approximately 1,036 acres of land acquired by the State of Maryland in 2010. The lands are broken down into five separate tracts that are part of the forestland properties formerly belonging to Besley and Rodgers, Inc. This company was started 1942 by the first State Forester of Maryland (Fred W. Besley) and his son, who was one of the largest private non-industrial forest landowners in Maryland. The properties are located west of Fishing Bay WMA and to the south of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge with one tract located on Taylors Island surrounded by Nature Conservancy property. These tracts are intensively managed forestlands that serve as critical habitat for ducks, American bald eagle, peregrine falcons, and Delmarva Fox Squirrels.

The tracts also contain a significant amount of non-tidal wetlands, marshlands and habitat for sensitive species and they border several important creeks such as Slaughter Creek, Farm Creek, and Coles Creek. With the total ownership exceeding 1,000 acres this acquisition represents a significant step towards protecting the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. As outlined in the “Protecting the Forests of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” Response to Directive 06-1, Maryland agreed to, by 2020, to “permanently protect an additional 695,000 acres of forests”. Protection of the Fred W. Besley Demonstration Forest tracts is significant step in reaching this goal.

Seth Demonstration ForestSeth Demonstration Forest

This property consisting of 121 acres is located in central Talbot County just east of the town of Easton. This small forested tract was gifted to the State of Maryland by Mary W. Seth in 1928 that, according to the deed, “shall be under management of the State Department of Forestry and used to demonstrate proper forestry practices.” The deed for this property has a reversionary clause that it must be used for the purpose identified in the deed. This property has been managed over the past 80 years by the Forest Service for the purpose as noted above. In addition this tract also contains an Ecologically Significant Area (ESA). The Seth Demonstration Forest does not adjoin any Chesapeake Forest parcels, however due to the existing management of this Forest being in line with the same goals as Chesapeake Forest, and to simplify the day-to-day management of this area, the decision was made in July of 2006 to add this area under the CFL Sustainable Forest Management Plan.

Wicomico Demonstration ForestWicomico Demonstration Forest

This property consisting of 1,264 acres and located in eastern Wicomico County was originally established in 1936 as a U.S. Forest Service Research Station. The majority of the property was abandoned farmland and woodlots and was purchased by the U.S. government between 1936 and 1941. The existing offices and shop buildings on the property were built in 1937. In 1942 the research forest along with the buildings were leased to the State of Maryland, and this arrangement continued until 1955 when title of the property was deeded over to the State. The deed which has a reversionary clause calls for the State to continue to manage the forest for the purpose of demonstrating forestry practices. The federal government still holds mineral rights to the property.

For the past 65 years, the Maryland Forest Service has carried through on implementing and demonstrating forestry management practices. This long-standing use of the Wicomico Demonstration Forest mirrors many of the principles of Sustainable Forestry that were established for the Chesapeake Forest Lands. When the Chesapeake Forest was acquired by the State of Maryland a number of large Chesapeake Forest tracts adjoined the boundaries of Wicomico Demonstration Forest. In July of 2006 the decision was made to move the Wicomico Demonstration Forest under the same management oversight as Chesapeake Forest Lands.​