The Maryland Park Service was awarded 15 improvement project grants by the Friends of Maryland State Parks through the organization’s program, “Small Grants, Big Impact!” This funding is for projects that focus on conservation, environmental education, and outdoor recreation, and are important additions benefitting Maryland State Parks and their millions of visitors.
Through its small grants program, launched in 2020, the nonprofit provides $1,000 grants to various state parks to help them achieve their mission.
The recently-awarded grants, totaling $25,840, provided funding that has enabled parks throughout the state to collaborate with community partners on small but vital projects: pollinator habitats, interpretive signage upgrades, park aviary expansions, new lifeguard stands, historical renovations, and hiring Youth Conservation Corps to assist with projects throughout the state.
“We are extremely excited about the diversity of projects,” Friends of Maryland State Parks President Chuck Hecker said. “The projects submitted were very creative and demonstrate how park visitors can recreate and, at the same time, learn about conservation, cultural diversity and how to camp in Maryland State Parks.”
Program funding this year increased by 90%, as compared to 2021, due to an influx of small donations from the general public.
“With the steady increase in visitation over the past three years, it has become even more important to improve educational and recreational features,” Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina said. “Supplementing the state’s record investment in the park system, the Friends of Maryland State Parks grant program is a creative and targeted way to leverage funds for specific park projects.”
Parks and their projects funded by Small Grants this year are:
- Assateague State Park – pollinator habitats and alternative energy demonstration campsite
- Deep Creek Lake State Park – interpretive signage, including braille text
- Gambrill State Park – Camp Out program for beginner campers
- Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park – educational legacy garden
- Janes Island State Park – two inspiration gardens
- Martinak State Park — six new kayaks (in partnership with Caroline County)
- North Point State Park – native garden
- Pocomoke River State Park – aviary expansion
- Rocky Gap State Park – nature center improvements
- Sandy Point State Park – new lifeguard stands
- Sang Run State Park – Election House renovations
- South Mountain State Park – food storage poles
- Wolf Den State Park — tree plantings
- Youghiogheny Wild River Natural Environmental Area – Champion Tree Trail and signage
More information on each project can be found on the Friends of Maryland State Parks website.
The Small Grants, Big Impact! The program supports creative and/or critical conservation and education projects and the small grant funding can be leveraged with volunteer activities and/or state funding to go even further in helping a state park achieve its goals.