Saturday, March 24, 2012

Elk Neck State Forest Firewise Geocaching Trail

A new interactive geocaching trail that educates participants on the importance of wildfire prevention is open in Maryland's Elk Neck State Forest.

Firewise Maryland was developed by the Maryland Forest Service to teach citizens living within wooded areas susceptible to wildfires how to protect their homes. To promote this program, a geocaching trail with eight geocaches has been established on three tracts of the Elk Neck State Forest.

Each geocache contains a guestbook, Firewise prizes and specific geocache cards. Individuals who successfully locate all eight specific geocache cards earn a Firewise Maryland certificate available at the Elk Neck State Forest office located on Irishtown Road, or by calling the office at 410-287-5675.

Geocaching is a type of treasure hunting game where participants use a GPS unit or smart phone to locate containers, called geocaches, hidden by other people. Geocaching is for people of all ages and helps establish a strong sense of community and build support for the environment.

For more information on the Firewise geocaching trail, call Elk Neck State Forest at 410-287-5675 or visit

source: MD DNR

Sunday, March 4, 2012

State Champion Sweet Birch Tree Discovered In Gunpowder Falls State Park

A new Maryland State Champion tree was recently found in Gunpowder Falls State Park. Dan Wilson, a volunteer with the Maryland Big Tree Program, located the massive sweet birch (Betula lenta) hidden deep within the Park.

The tree was found to be 115 feet tall, 10 feet 1 inch around and with a crown spread of 45 feet, equaling a total point value of 247. According to American Forests this is the tallest tree of its species on record. The previous sweet birch State Champion, with a point value of 237, is located in Cecil County.

The United States Champion is located in New Hampshire at 266 points. The Maryland champion appears healthy and could seize the national title in future years. The tree is also the largest of its species ever recorded in Maryland (dating back to 1925). The tree is located at GPS coordinates N39 32 093 W76 29 955.

The sweet birch is native to all of Maryland north and west of I-95, the tree can be found in counties south and east of that area but usually only sporadically and in small groups.

The name sweet birch comes from the sweet wintergreen flavor of its bark and twigs. The tree is also referred to as black birch because of its dark bark.

For more information, visit