Snow Hill, Md. (August 30, 2012) ─ The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has decided to open the Foster tract of the Chesapeake Forest to public hunting, after taking public input for a month. DNR also plans to move all of the 15 proposed tracts from public hunting to the leased hunting program. The Department will hold a joint Forest/Wildllife & Heritage Services informational meeting for the hunting community and similar stakeholders about this decision and to answer their questions in the near future.
“This decision will continue to ensure diverse recreational hunting opportunities are provided to Maryland’s hunting communities, whether they have a preference for leased and/or public hunting,” said DNR Forestry Service Director Steve Koehn. “It will also serve to increase the total amount of land open to public hunting on the Chesapeake Forest by 1,822 acres.”
DNR posted a description of the proposed Chesapeake Forest-Hunting Tract Changes, along with tract maps, on the Department’s website for 30 days, asking for public comments from July 12 through August 11, 2012. DNR received 34 comments. DNR listed all the comments in the Notice of Decision, which is now available on the DNR Forest Service website at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/CF_Proposal_Hunting_Notice-of-Decision.asp
The Chesapeake Forest appointed Citizens Advisory Committee reviewed the proposal, and after receiving public comment and a final review DNR determined that there were no significant natural resource issues with the decisions.
While this proposal is specifically for the Chesapeake Forest, there are multiple public hunting opportunities on other DNR lands in this area. For lands managed by the DNR-Forest Service, both Chesapeake Forest and Pocomoke State Forest are managed cooperatively and provide a combined 50,835 acres open for public hunting – in addition to several thousand additional acres on managed Wildlife Management Areas in the region.
The Public Use criteria, developed through the public review process in 2002 and adopted in 2004, is used to determine land most suitable for public and leased hunting opportunities. It continues to be an effective decision tool for analysis through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. This proposal has identified those tracts that can sustain higher volumes of public hunters with increased frequency, as well as those tracts which cannot.
“We greatly appreciated the public’s input to ensure we didn’t overlook any important considerations regarding the layout of hunting areas within this forestland,” said Director Steve Koehn.
Those interested in reviewing the Chesapeake Forest lottery for leases on individual forest tract opportunities can find a list of tracts, appropriate maps, tract directions and other relevant information on the DNR Forest Service website at dnr.state.md.us/forests/chesapeakeforests/chesapeakeforestlands_lottery.asp
Owned by DNR, Chesapeake Forests is comprised of nearly 67,000 acres in six lower Eastern Shore counties ─ Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester.