In February of 1996, DNR adopted a formal policy providing a consistent, coordinated procedure for internal review of proposed projects and actions that affect the responsibilities of various units of the Department in protecting, enhancing and providing for balanced use of the natural resources of the State. This policy assigned responsibility for review and disposition of all actions that would affect State lands managed by DNR to Land Acquisition and Planning. Actions that would affect DNR land include DNR actions not included in an approved Land Unit Plan, actions proposed by other State, federal and local agencies or governments, proposals from corporations, private individuals, not-for-profit organizations, academic/research entities, etc., and include proposals such as constructing new structures, repairing or improving roads and bridges, establishing rights-of-way or easements, leasing or purchasing State land, commercial activities, scientific/research projects, collecting trips, and numerous other actions.
Proposals to be considered, or related questions should be submitted to John F. Wilson, Land Acquisition and Planning’s Associate Director for Stewardship at 410-260-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Minimal information for consideration must include a clear description of the proposal, an explanation of why it should be undertaken on State land, a map showing the location and limits of disturbance, and identity of the applicant’s contact person. The first step in the project review process is study by a DNR interdisciplinary team of experts who will assess the need for the project, its design and potential impact, and determine if mitigation is required or adequate. The submittal from the applicant must provide sufficient detailed information to support such a review. If the review team determines that the proposed action is not in the best interest of the public lands system, or that acceptable alternatives to the use of State land are available, the proposal will be denied.
If it moves forward, several paths may be followed. Simple proposals involving short-term uses (less that one year) with minimal impact (scientific surveys or studies, for instance) may be authorized under a Use Agreement issued by the Department. More complex proposals with greater impact, but still of short duration, may be authorized under a DNR right-of-entry. Projects involving long-term or permanent uses will require a formal easement or lease, which necessitates review by the State Clearinghouse and ultimate approval by the Board of Public Works. Approval of such proposals typically involves the payment of a reasonable fee for the use of the State land. All of these requests may also require consideration and approval by agencies other than DNR. For instance, work involving wetlands or waterways require permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment,
work within the Critical Area require approval from the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission, and proposals involving sites with archeological or historical significance require approval from the Maryland Historical Trust.
The nature of the review and the type of authorization that is appropriate will determine the length of time required. A Use Agreement may be issued within a few weeks of receipt, while a formal Right-Of-Way may require three or more months.
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