Garrett State Forest

Located 5 miles northeast of Oakland lies Garrett State Forest. Covering the mountains with forests, streams, and valleys, it is truly one of a kind.

Garrett State Forest offers campsites and hiking trails for anyone looking to escape into nature.

A section of Garrett State Forest

For more information, click on the picture or call 301-334-2038.



Governor O'Malley Announces Dual Certification Plans For State Forests

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Oct. 14, 2010

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced on Monday that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking dual certification for all three western Maryland state forests. According to the governor’s office, this move will protect forest industry jobs and garner national recognition of the state’s commitment to sustainable forestry management.

O’Malley made the announcement at Potomac-Garrett State Forest, on the donated tract of land upon which Maryland’s extensive public lands system was founded.

“Dual certification of these forests will protect important jobs in western Maryland by providing certified ‘green’ products to businesses like NewPage that will allow them to meet increasing customer demand,” said O’Malley. “It will also publicly validate the great work our state foresters are doing in managing our working lands for sustainability. Once again, by relying on sound science, Maryland is proving we can protect our environment and our economy to the benefit of our citizens and our planet.”

According to the governor’s office, the western Maryland forest products industry has a $950 million total economic impact in the region, contributes $35 million in state and local tax revenues, and employs 9,200 people. Dual certification will directly benefit these employees, including nearly 1,000 Marylanders who work at NewPage, by providing the forestry industry the tools it needs to compete in the global market and meet the demand for certified wood.

Read the rest here.

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DNR Amends Alcohol Policy In State Forests

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May. 27, 2010

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is amending its alcohol policy on public lands to provide for a limited exception for state forest campsites, effective immediately. The policy prohibiting alcohol in all Maryland state parks, including family campgrounds, remains in place.

“We are grateful to the citizens and elected officials of western Maryland who gave us the opportunity to hear their voices in person on this matter,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “They persuaded us that many of the disruptive and unacceptable behaviors which formed the basis of the alcohol policy in the family-style campgrounds found in state parks do not apply to the same degree in the more isolated individual campsites found in the remote settings in our state forests.”

DNR will continue to monitor the number and type of incidents and unacceptable behavior associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages on state forests. Additional restrictions may be imposed in the future only if incidents increase to a level which interferes with the ability of state forest visitors to enjoy a peaceful and safe camping experience, or the Department’s resource protection objectives are compromised by the irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

The Department will pursue the possibility of new partnerships with county tourism and retail liquor stores to establish a public outreach effort to educate state forest visitors about drinking responsibly and employing “Leave No Trace (LNT) Ethics,” a policy DNR has been promoting in its parks.

In order to preserve the beauty and serenity of Maryland’s state forests, visitors are asked to leave their campsites litter-free, refrain from nailing and cutting trees, report vandalism of recreation facilities, pack out all food waste, and be considerate of others. A public outreach effort will strive to raise the level of compliance with LNT ethics, in order to improve campsite conditions and the outdoor recreation experience in the state forests.

Read the rest here.

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Lawmakers, DNR secretary to meet about alcohol ban

Kevin Spradlin
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin is expected to meet with local lawmakers to discuss the recent ban of alcohol in state forests.

The issue has sparked emotions from tourists, government officials and business owners alike. Chief concerns include the lack of public notice and the fact that only a handful of people are causing trouble. Why punish everyone by preventing hunters, fishermen and other recreational enthusiasts from enjoying a cold adult beverage in a responsible manner?

Delegate Kevin Kelly said Griffin is coordinating a time to meet with the District 1 legislative delegation to Annapolis. That meeting is not yet scheduled but, Kelly said, will be a public meeting. However, Kelly said the ban “makes some sense.”

He said top officials within the Natural Resources Police, the agency charged with enforcing DNR policies, have cited concerns for the safety of their 25 law enforcement officers who operate in Allegany and Garrett counties.

“Manpower is down because of budget cuts,” Kelly said. “That’s not a lot of police officers. There are very few officers for the amount of territory which they have to cover.”

A lone officer who comes upon a rowdy, alcohol-imbibed group of visitors is outnumbered and can be a safety issue, Kelly said.

About one-quarter of land in Allegany County is owned by state government. Garrett County has more than 84,100 acres of publicly owned land — more than any jurisdiction in the state. Combined, the two counties have about 83 percent of the state’s 138,288 acres of state forest.

Kelly said when DNR made a similar ban at state parks in 2009, there was not much feedback on the issue and seemed taken aback by the controversy sparked by the expansion of the alcohol ban. Kelly said NRP officials said the new policy is similar to adjoining states but did not immediately have specifics available.

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners took up the issue at the end of its Thursday public meeting. Commissioner Dale Lewis asked his two colleagues to draft a letter to Griffin, Gov. Martin O’Malley and local lawmakers to notify them of their discontent over the issue.

“If they’re gonna put off limits to people who want to have a social beer at night around a campfire or after a day of deer hunting … I think that’s wrong,” Lewis said. “I think we have to let them know that (and) ask them to consider rescinding or reconsider.”

As for officers’ safety, “I would like to know how many tickets they gave to somebody actually drinking in the (forests),” Lewis said.

Sgt. Art Windemuth of the Maryland Natural Resources Police has previously told the Times-News that in 2009, officers dealt with 12 incidents in Savage River State Forest and 59 incidents in Green Ridge State Forest that were classified as criminal and/or alcohol. A breakdown of solely alcohol-related incidents was not available.

Commissioner Jim Stakem agreed and said existing law and policy on unruly behavior should be sufficient.

“If somebody’s misbehaving, you remove them,” Stakem said.

Stakem said it’s been the No. 1 issue mentioned to him in recent weeks and that he empathizes with critics of the policy even though “I don’t fish … I don’t do that sort of thing, but a lot of people do. I fully support a letter.”

Commissioner Bob Hutcheson didn’t address the alcohol ban directly but said he was “concerned about timing and the lack of notice. I think it was the wrong approach.”

Stakem said the manner in which the policy was implemented was “under the table.”

“Talk about transparent government,” Stakem quipped. “That’s an abuse right there. I don’t care who hears it. I think we should be very strong on our request.”

Kelly agreed with Hutcheson about the approach DNR took to implement the policy.

“It should have been handled differently,” Kelly said, “no question about it.”

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Lawmakers want suspension of state forest alcohol ban

Lawmakers want suspension of state forest alcohol ban
Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

Cumberland — CUMBERLAND — Numerous state senators and delegates, including the District 1 delegation, have written to the Maryland Forest Service asking Director Steve Koehn to suspend a policy that prohibits alcoholic beverage consumption within state forests.

Although the ban has been in place for about four months, its existence just recently came to public attention by way of articles in the Times-News. Koehn said the ban was enacted administratively and did not require a public meeting process.

In a March 25 letter, the elected officials wrote to Koehn, “It is problematic, to say the least, that we must become aware of such a broad and sweeping policy change through media reports rather than an open dialogue with your office.

“Although we agree that there is good intent behind the alcohol ban, we are concerned that your department did not feel it was necessary to hold public meetings … Further, such a policy may have a chilling effect on the sale of licenses and other related fees.”

The representatives go on to request a suspension of the ban until public meetings are held to discuss it.

Koehn said Monday morning via e-mail that he had not yet received the letter and, thus, could not react to it.

There are 138,288 acres of state forest in Maryland, 83 percent of which lie in Allegany and Garrett counties, according to numbers posted on the agency’s Web site.

Alcoholic beverage merchants such as Bill Schoenadel of Bill’s Place in Little Orleans and industry representatives such as John Stakem of Frostburg have objected to the new prohibition.

Stakem, who is president of the Allegany County Liquor Dealers Association, said he will travel to Annapolis on Wednesday in an attempt to be heard.

Sgt. Art Windemuth of the Maryland Natural Resources Police said Monday that during 2009 officers dealt with 12 incidents in Savage River State Forest and 59 in Green Ridge that are categorized as criminal and/or alcohol. An exact breakdown of how many definitely were related to the consumption of alcohol was not available.

Windemuth said alcohol-related incidents can range from underage drinking to assaults and other violent crimes.

The average number of officers who are available to patrol state forests along with their other duties is five in each of Allegany and Garrett counties, he said.

A little over a year ago, the Maryland Park Service prohibited strong drink in day-use areas, and in November expanded the ban to campgrounds. According to an online statement by the Department of Natural Resources, the ban is also in place for wildlife management areas.

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Alcohol banned in Maryland state forests

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

LITTLE ORLEANS — If you have a Busch beer and want to head for the mountains, don’t make it a public hilltop in Maryland.

It is now illegal to possess or consume alcoholic beverages on state forests in Maryland, according to Steve Koehn, Maryland state forester.

“There is a department-wide policy banning alcohol on the state’s public lands,” Koehn said Tuesday. “The park service got on board first and we are following suit.”

Koehn said strong drink will still be allowed at two pavilions, one on the Green Ridge and one on the Potomac-Garrett state forests, but only when a proper permit is possessed.

“You would be OK transporting unopened alcohol in your vehicle through a state forest, but if you are at a scenic overlook, for example, and can’t wait to pop open a cold one, you may be in for some trouble if a Natural Resources Police officer sees you,” Koehn said.

Koehn said the policy was adopted because people were having bad camping experiences.

“A family would be camped near another group that was not consuming alcohol in a measured fashion and it would ruin their trip,” he said. “We realize that some people will be annoyed with this regulation, but we believe that the greater good is being served. It’s all about the Maryland public having a positive experience on their lands.”

Bill Schoenadel said the regulation will ruin his business.

Schoenadel runs the unique and popular Bill’s Place, a known watering hole and grocery along the Potomac River at Little Orleans.

“Nobody knew anything about this until just the other day when some signs were seen at the state forest campsites,” Schoenadel said.

“Hunters and fishermen don’t cause problems. They like to go back to their camps at night and sit around a fire and have a few beers while they talk about the day. Those are the people I sell beer to.”

Schoenadel said that before a rails and trails program was established for hikers and bikers along the river, hunters and anglers were his main source of business.

“If the state takes a soft approach to this new regulation, I mean if they don’t bother people at campsites who are quietly having a beer and keeping it out of sight, then it might not be so bad. But there are some rangers who like to write a ticket for everything they can,” he said.

Jim Mullan of the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service said that agency too is in the process of drafting similar regulations that would apply to wildlife management areas.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350