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DPSCS More Than Halfway to One Million Tree Goal

Two years ago, when Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) Secretary Gary Maynard pledged that offender work crews would plant one million trees within four years to support the Governor’s Smart, Green and Growing initiative, it seemed like a lofty goal. But by Earth Day 2010, the department best known for running state prisons and parole and probation offices was more than halfway there.spring map

This spring, in conjunction with Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the State Highway Administration, DPSCS inmates are in the process of planting more than 400,000 seedlings in all corners of the state. Pre-release inmates are making Maryland greener on Warrior Mountain in Allegany County; Monocacy Natural Resources Management Area in Frederick-Montgomery; Wye Island on the Eastern Shore; Kings Landing in Calvert County; and Fair Hill in Cecil County, just to name a few spots.

In fact, as of April 2010, inmates had planted in 20 of the state’s 23 counties, and in Baltimore City. The work is done by inmates nearing their release, to not only improve Maryland’s sustainability but to give them job skills that can be used for future employment.

“Community-based projects help rehabilitate Maryland’s incarcerated offenders by providing the opportunity to learn new employment skills, and creating connections back to the community,” stated Maynard during Wednesday’s event. DPSCS has on average over 400 offenders on any given day involved in public works projects across Maryland. “Doing this provides an offender the chance to give something back and to be a part of something that is bigger than them.”Sec. Maynard and worker

In Queen Anne’s County alone, inmates have planted nearly 155,000 seedlings and trees. On April 21, DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard, Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin, and District Engineer Terry Wright from the State Highway Administration Pick upall converged on Wye Island to celebrate---and to plant even more trees.

The effort is part of a larger Marylanders Plant Trees initiative which aims to involve every citizen in the important task of enhancing the sustainability of Maryland by planting a tree. The citizen component of the initiative was launched April 2009 to give Marylanders an accessible opportunity to make an impact in the natural world around them. In cooperation with participating nurseries, Marylanders Plant Trees program continues to offer $25 coupons toward the purchase of native trees costing $50 or more, redeemable at nearly 70 nurseries across the State. Governor O’Malley and DNR encourage Marylanders to register every tree they plant. Not only will they be eligible for prizes, but they will be able to see the environmental benefits of their trees through interactive maps and charts. Marylanders planted and registered 41,000 trees in 2009.

The partnership between the three state agencies utilizes available resources more effectively, to accomplish a greater outcome than each could alone. The impressive spring blitz will bring to more than 622,000 the total number of trees planted since the initiative kicked off on Arbor Day in 2008. The goal of One Million trees is expected to be reached by this time next year.