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First Stop on the #mypubliclands Summer Roadtrip: Douglas Point Special Recreation Management Area in Maryland

Every year, millions of visitors flock to vast BLM landscapes out west like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But just an hour or so from the BLM’s national headquarters in Washington DC is Douglas Point Special Recreation Management Area, a lesser-known but equally interesting landscape.

Found within Douglas Point’s hardwood forests are 20 of the state’s 25 interior nesting birds. The area contains evidence of Native American settlements dating back to the 16th century, a Civil War encampment, and the largest sunken wooden ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere! The site is also home to a variety of terrestrial and aquatic species, including remains of prehistoric sharks, rays, crocodiles, and turtles.

The colonial era Chiles Homesite is the most well-known historic attraction at Douglas Point.  A public walking path, complete with interpretive panels, winds around the remaining chimney ruins of the original house. You can learn more about the Chiles Homesite, view a map of the walking path, and read the five interpretive panels on William and Mary’s Archaeological Research website.

And if that’s not enough for you – the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail loops through the 540 acre Douglas Point property, which offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.  You can hike, horseback ride, hunt, mountain bike, and more on miles of trails through hardwood forests and marshes.  And at the north end of the property, you’ll find a small beach and Potomac river overlook designated as a “water stop” for the State of Maryland water trail component of the Potomac Heritage NST.

Learn more about this area on the BLM’s Eastern States website.

Brown leaf chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris)

The brown leaf chameleon is a small chameleon found on a small island off the eastern coast of Madagascar. Its appearance mimics that of a dead leaf. The brown leaf chameleon spends its days foraging among dead leaves on the forest floor, searching for prey with its independently moving, protruding eyes and catching insects with its long, sticky tongue. If threatened, the lizard’s first reaction is to stay still and rely on its remarkable camouflage, but it may also exhibit other defence behaviours. This includes the ‘freeze-and-roll’ technique, in which the chameleon folds its legs underneath its belly, rolls over to one side and remains very still, mimicking a dead leaf on the forest floor. Alternatively, the brown leaf chameleon may also thrust its spines to ward off predators. Brown leaf chameleons have an interesting courtship ritual in which a male approaches a female with pronounced nodding and rocking movements. An unreceptive female repels a male by reacting with jerky movements, while a receptive female walks with the male. After some time walking together, and before dusk, the male mounts the female and is carried on her back until the pair copulates in the late evening or at night. The brown leaf chameleon is threatened primarily by habitat destruction, which is the result of agricultural expansion, timber extraction, and small-scale mining.

photo credits: Franco Andreone

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Week 1 of the #mypubliclands “Weird and Wild” Summer Road Trip: Exploring BLM Lands West of the Mississippi

Yesterday, we kicked off the #mypubliclands Weird and Wild Summer Roadtrip, a summer-long virtual roadtrip of wild landscapes, unique resources and events, and behind-the-scenes with employees. Moving east to west, we’ll spend a week in each state or group of states where the BLM manages lands, mostly in the west. 

This week, we’re exploring lands and resources managed by the BLM Eastern States - in the 31 states east of the Mississippi River. Our travel itinerary includes the following beautiful locations, wildlife and behind-the-scenes.

  • Today: Archaeology and paleontology in Douglas Point, Maryland. 
  • Wednesday: A little Gulf Coast science with bat roosting colonies and baby bird banding for #wildlifewednesday and #WomeninSTEM.
  • Thursday: The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area in Florida like you’ve never seen it - with underwater videos of reef fish and overhead video of lighthouse work at the top. 
  • Friday: A behind-the-scenes video tour of life on the Jackson Hotshot Crew in Mississippi.
  • Saturday: A walk along the Alabama coast for National Trails Day, and a check in on sea turtle nests.

And on Sunday, we’ll wrap things up with our weekly #mypubliclandsroadtrip instagram Challenge favorites. (Learn more about the challenge.)

Read live posts here all week, and then track our progress at http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/roadtrip.  Follow the story across social media with hashtag #mypubliclandsroadtrip.