The Maryland Park Service is planting more than 10,000 trees in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2020. From the shores of Assateague Island to the mountains of Western Maryland, rangers will plant native trees on public lands to mark the occasion.
A special Wye Oak seedling — a descendant of a white oak that lived for centuries in Talbot County — was planted at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis by Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina.
“Once this white oak tree matures, it will support more than 500 species of insects essential to feeding young birds every spring,” said Superintendent Settina. The white oak — Quercus alba — is Maryland’s state tree, and is found in every county and Baltimore City.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources stresses the importance of planting native trees and other plants, which support Maryland’s butterfly, moth, and bird populations.
According to the Maryland Forest Service, trees also provide cost-effective stormwater management, reduce flooding by absorbing and slowing rainfall, limit stream bank erosion, filter pollutants, improve water quality in streams and rivers, improve air quality, reduce energy costs by shading and insulating buildings, and much more. Through various initiatives, the Maryland Forest Service plants millions of trees and seedlings each year.
“Planting native trees on our public lands is a perfect way to mark this special Earth Day,” Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “The most important lesson of the past 50 years is that everyone can make a difference and every contribution, no matter how big or small, is vital to our overall success. Special thanks to our staff and citizens across this state for commemorating Earth Day by enhancing our natural resources and our watersheds!”
The first Earth Day in 1970 marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement in the United States, sparking the establishment of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, and the creation of bedrock environmental protection laws that provided the foundation for preserving Maryland’s natural areas, waterways and wildlife, as well as, the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.
Throughout the spring, Maryland Park Service Rangers are conducting plantings that are documented in an online photo album and video. The Park Service had planned many of this year’s tree planting events to be public, but had to change plans due to safety requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plantings scheduled or already conducted include:
Assateague State Park, Worcester County – 150 loblolly seedlings were planted and more were also handed out to area students with their lunch pickups.
Bohemia River State Park, Cecil County – 2,450 native hardwood seedlings planted in partnership with Cecil County Land Use and Development Services to re-establish riparian forest along Great Bohemia Creek.
Deep Creek Lake State Park, Garrett County – 50 trees are being planted .
Gambrill State Park, Frederick County – 10 trees being planted.
Janes Island State Park, Somerset County – 200 seedlings planted.
Martinak State Park, Caroline County – 300 trees planted.
New Germany State Park, Garrett County – 500 red spruce trees being planted.
Pocomoke River State Park -Worcester County – 200 seedlings planted.
Point Lookout State Park Complex, St. Mary’s County- 500 trees planted
Rocky Gap State Park, Allegany County – planting 30 trees from the local high school.
Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area, Kent County – 75 trees planted.
St. Mary’s River State Park, St. Mary’s County – 6,000 trees planted in combined effort with DNR Chesapeake and Coastal Service and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
Tuckahoe State Park, Caroline County – 2,625 trees were planted.
Washington Monument State Park, Washington County – 69 trees planted for reforestation of the park entrance.
Wolf Den Run State Park, Garrett County – 193 seedlings and larger stock trees were planted.