Garrett State Forest: The birthplace of Maryland’s state forests

Garrett State Forest is the birthplace of forestry conservation in Maryland.  It is important to note the key role Garrett County and its public lands played in preserving the natural environment. 

garrett state forest

Garrett State Forest History

During the early 1900’s, just 20% of mature forest cover existed east of the Mississippi.  The previous century saw large scale timber operations greatly exceed timber growth.  One of the results was large, uncontrolled forest fires that further damaged the fragile environment.  Most of Maryland’s forests were populated with small stands of regenerating seedlings or saplings.  Large trees were truly an unusual sight. 

In response to the deplorable conditions of the state’s forests, the descendants of one of Garrett County’s founding fathers issued a challenge to the state government.   John and Robert Garrett were heirs to the B&O Railroad fortune who offered a generous donation of nearly 2,000 acres of forest land on one “small” condition.  The state must create a department specifically for the management and supervision of public lands.  Accepting the gift and the conditions, a forestry law was passed in 1906 establishing a Board of Forestry.  This made it the third state in the Union to enact such a law.  The tract of land donated by the Garrett brothers became is part of what is now Garrett State Forest, Maryland’s first state forest.  It has expanded over time to include about 8,000 acres of mountain forests, streams and valleys. 

Continue reading Garrett State Forest: The birthplace of Maryland’s state forests