Pets to Receive New Rights in State Parks

ANNAPOLIS (April 7, 2010) — The Maryland Park Service today announced the implementation of a new pet policy for Maryland state parks. The new policy will provide expanded access for park visitors to enjoy the outdoors with their pets while ensuring that all visitors have a safe and enjoyable park experience.

“This is a great opportunity to open state parks to more Marylanders who include a pet in their family,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina. “We have worked hard to listen to all of our visitors, creating an improved pet policy which will offer more to people who already love our parks, support responsible pet ownership and help us welcome new customers to some of Maryland’s most beautiful natural areas.”

The revised policy will take effect in stages. The first phase will begin on April 9, and the second phase will become effective on the day after Labor Day or October 1, depending on the park.

The MPS proposed revisions to the existing pet policy last year and began taking public comments in October 2009. The revised policy includes guidelines that apply to all state parks in Maryland as well as park-specific regulations that were devised to allow greater pet access in areas with appropriate facilities and activities.

Because of the new policy changes:

-- six new camping areas were opened for pet access;

-- twelve park day-use areas will now be open to pets on a year-round basis;

-- an additional twelve park day-use areas will provide seasonal pet access outside of the summer season;

-- eight parks that were previously closed to pets will now provide pet access opportunities; and

-- all undeveloped areas within parks, which have historically been available to pet owners, will remain open to pet access.

Pet access remains prohibited from certain facilities, such as visitor centers and playgrounds, and other facilities at the discretion of the Park manager. Service animals will still be allowed in all areas open to their owners.

Existing regulations requiring that all pets be leashed and that owners clean up after their pets will remain in place. Pet owners are asked to exercise responsible pet ownership ethics and bring their own disposal bags needed to pick-up after their pets and to keep their parks clean. Waste disposal containers will be provided in high-use park areas.

You can learn more about the new pet policy and its application in specific state parks at .

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