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Goucher College Polls Marylanders About Parks

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BALTIMORE (AP) –Maryland residents heavily favor state parks with features of historical interest, according to a Goucher College poll released Tuesday.

The school said it surveyed 665 Marylanders by telephone in late October. When asked which activities they would likely participate in at state parks, 69 percent said they would likely or very likely visit historic sites.

Hiking came in second, with 56 percent indicating an interest.

The results surprised Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina, who said hiking and trails usually top the surveys done by her agency. But she said the park service recently began developing a five-year plan for restoring and interpreting historic sites, so she was glad to see those interests reflected in the Goucher poll.

“We’re literally on the ground floor on that. We’re currently assessing what we know about our inventory,” Settina said.

Fewer than half of those polled expressed interest in fishing (42 percent), guided nature programming (38 percent), canoeing or kayaking (38 percent), camping (36 percent), mountain biking (26 percent), or hunting (12 percent).

About half of the state’s 66 parks list “historical interest” as a feature on the Department of Natural Resources’ website. They include the South Mountain Civil War battlefield; Fort Frederick, built during the French and Indian War; and Colonial structures in Patapsco Valley State Park.

A Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park is projected to open in Dorchester County in early 2015.

The poll was funded by the Towson college’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center endowment, but devised in collaboration with the Maryland Park Service, spokeswoman Kristen Pinheiro said. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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