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DPSCS Helps Maryland Reach Governor’s Million Tree Milestone

By the time Governor Martin O’Malley initiated the Marylanders Plant trees initiative in 2009 to get citizens involved in the greening of the state, DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard had already pledged to have his inmates help plant one million trees on public land within four years.

Well, on May 4, 2011, anybody who might have thought that to be impossible had to just stand back and marvel at what was accomplished, because on a wildlife preserve in Prince George’s County, the Governor and Secretary planted the one millionth tree---and in less than four years.

The planting, at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, drew a crowd that included Senate President Mike Miller and several high-ranking Cabinet secretaries. The event was a celebration of partnership: The Department of Transportation provided grant money for some of the trees; DPSCS inmates planted them; and the Department of Natural Resources did all the legwork on locations as well as some financial and planting work.

It was the inmates, largely through the DPSCS’ acclaimed Public Safety Works initiative, who really helped make it happen. Under the supervision of correctional officers, and with great assistance from many in the Division of Correction pre-release system, minimum-security inmates fanned out from the mountains of western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, sometimes planting several thousand trees in a two- or three-day period. They re-forested mountainsides, made highway shoulders green, and turned barren areas into oases that one day will provide great shade and beauty for picnics and pleasant times.

And there’s more to come. Secretary Maynard continues to press local leaders to let DPSCS inmates help them make communities clean and green. In the meantime, hats off to all the folks from State government agencies---and to the inmates---- who helped plant one million news trees in Maryland in less than four years.