From the Department of Natural Resources:
The Maryland Park Service (MPS) recently awarded the Honorary Ranger Award to Volunteer Ranger Gary Nelson, who has been volunteering for Susquehanna State Park since 2008. Susquehanna State Park Manager Ranger Nicole Merrick presented the award at the Rediscover Rock Run event held at Susquehanna State Park on May 7. The Honorary Ranger Award recognizes citizens for their exemplary support to MPS over a sustained period of time.
“I want to thank Honorary Ranger Nelson for his dedication to our State Parks and congratulate him on this outstanding achievement,” said MPS Superintendent Nita Settina. “Any visitor that has had the pleasure of interacting with Honorary Ranger Nelson will leave the park with a true appreciation for the people and places that make Maryland State Parks so special.”
Nelson received this prestigious award for assisting park staff in managing nearly all the resources the park provides, from his efforts in trail maintenance, performing shoreline clean-ups and assisting with mountain bike races to staffing the visitor center, historic preservation initiatives and garnering community support at public venues.
Nelson, a retired technology manager, lives in Churchville Md. with his wife Suzan. Nelson and his wife have provided to the Friends of Rock Run a beautiful period rug and pencil point bed, now on display in the Rock Run Mansion.
One of Honorary Ranger Nelson’s most lasting contributions to Susquehanna State Park is the significant improvements he has made to the Rock Run Historic Area over the last few years. Several days a week for several months, he reported to work on the historic Rock Run structures each morning, often putting in a full eight-hour day. Systematically, he went room by room — scraping, patching, sanding, painting, staining floors and refurbishing antiques — until he looked behind him and all rooms in the house were finished.
“The results are stunning,” said Ranger Merrick. “Ranger Nelson’s care and craftsmanship are evident everywhere you look.”
Susquehanna State Park staff and volunteers open the buildings in the Rock Run Historic Area for public tours, interpretive displays, and milling demonstrations on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The river town of Rock Run was flourishing in the 1800’s. What still remains of this almost forgotten town is preserved within Susquehanna State Park for the enjoyment of park visitors.
Maryland’s state parks not only provide great outdoor recreation for Marylanders and visitors, they are also a great asset to State and local economies. According to a recent study, conducted in partnership with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Maryland state parks have an estimated annual economic benefit of more than $650 million. In 2010, visitors directly spent more than $567 million locally —$25.56 locally for every dollar the State invests in state parks —during their visits. And almost 95 percent of visitors had their expectations met or exceeded during visits.