Before the establishment of Pocomoke State Forest (PSF) much of the land had been cleared for farming or used as farm woodlots. When the Great Depression hit many of the farmers fell on hard times, resulting in the acquisition of large amounts of land by the Federal Government. In the mid to late 1930s, two Civilian Conservation Camps were established on the Forest. The camp workers did considerable road and trail work, established boundary lines, provided for fire protection and suppression, planted trees, and performed recreation improvements at Milburn Landing. Simultaneously, the State of Maryland was purchasing lands for management activities and in 1954, the Federal Government deeded its holdings to the State. In 1964, the Milburn Landing and Shad Landing areas were separated from the Forest and developed for intensive recreational use as State Parks. The State continues to purchase in-holdings and other ecologically important areas along the Pocomoke River.
Pocomoke State Forest is characterized by large areas of loblolly pine, mixed pine-hardwood, bottomland hardwood, and bald-cypress forests. In general, the mixed pine-hardwood, hardwoods, and bald cypress stands are older, mature forests, while loblolly pine stands are more evenly distributed across all age classes. The Cypress swamps, which are State designated Wildlands, border the Pocomoke River, which is a State designated Scenic River.
Pocomoke State Forest has a very small remnant area of Old Growth Forest approximately 6 acres in size. One goal of PSF is to protect and expand Old Growth Forest by connecting a series of forest stands identified as “nearly old growth forest”. Larger areas that contain the nearly old growth stands may be mapped as potential old growth management areas. Old Growth Forest management is more fully described in the Sustainable Forest Management Plan for PSF.
Historically a significant portion of Pocomoke State Forest was managed for industrial forest production as a major contributor to the region’s forest products economy. Pine sawmills and pulpwood-chipping operations provided an outlet for timber from the local forests. As outlined in the Sustainable Forest Management Plan, a primary objective of the Pocomoke State Forest is to become a national model of certified sustainable forestry. To meet that objective the State of Maryland through the Department of Natural Resources committed to certification under both the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standard and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard. In the spring of 2009, dual certification under these two standards was achieved for the entire Pocomoke State Forest, and compliance with certification is monitored through annual audits. When harvesting and other management work is proposed on the forest all environmental factors are considered in the development of Annual Work Plans (AWP). These plans are reviewed by an interdisciplinary team of resource professionals from the Department of Natural Resources, the local Citizens Advisory Committee for the Forest, and finally a public comment period. Starting in 2012 the Pocomoke State Forest AWP has been combined with the AWP for Chesapeake Forest. In Worcester County, both forests are interconnected and are managed jointly under the same certification principles.