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Conservation Easement Preserves 167 Acres in Washington and Wicomico Counties

State Satisfies MOU, protecting 3,285 acres since 2009

Photo by Timothy Shelton

The State has permanently preserved 167 acres of streamside forests, natural areas and wetlands in Washington and Wicomico counties. Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and the Board of Public Works approved the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) easement at today’s meeting in Annapolis.

“Thanks to State, Federal and community members working together, we are and will continue to preserve vital lands in Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Guarding these areas from development helps protect our natural resources and ensures these beautiful landscapes will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Approval of these projects satisfies the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, protecting a total of 3,285 acres using $12.6 million in State Program Open Space funding to match federal monies dedicated to the overall CREP program.

Washington County:

The 65-acre Edwin David easement, on property owned by the David family, will permanently protect water quality along 7,000 feet of ditches and tributaries to Dog Creek and Little Dog Creek. Forested and vegetative stream buffers will work to filter stormwater runoff that will feed into these creeks, the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The CREP easement will extinguish 2 development rights.

The David property also includes two other creeks and two natural springs, which will be protected by the buffers. The area is  within close proximity to several State and national parks, including Antietam Battlefield, Washington Monument State Park, Greenbrier State Park and the Appalachian Trail. Washington County and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold the easement.

“The project is part of a larger tract of land near the historic town of Boonsboro,” said Eric Seifarth, land preservation administrator with Washington County. “Surrounded by the area of the Battle of South Mountain, the Battle of Foxes Gap, the Battle of Turners Gap, and the Battle of Boonsboro, the property is in a central location with respect to the Civil War.”

Wicomico County:

The 101-acre easement, on property owned by the Smith family, will permanently protect water quality through streamside buffers along 6,715 feet of White’s Creek and Sirman’s Branch, which feed into the Wicomico River, an important tributary to the Bay. Wicomico County and DNR will hold the easement.

“The total, 330-acre property has been in Charles Smith’s family for several generations, and is situated in close proximity to the Wicomico River,” said Kate Patten of the Lower Shore Land Trust. “Flanked by White’s Creek and Sirman Branch, the easement will ensure that these creeks retain important buffers and protect the quality of water flowing into the Wicomico River. The remaining 226 acres will be protected by a donated easement.”

Maryland’s CREP easement option is administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and is funded through Program Open Space.  In 2009, the State of Maryland entered into an agreement with the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide funds to landowners who make permanent the conservation practices established through 10- or 15- year CREP contracts.  CREP provides for the establishment of stream buffers, grass plantings, shrubs and trees, and the retirement of highly erodible land.  In addition to providing important habitat for wildlife, all of these practices work to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by reducing soil runoff, increasing groundwater absorption, and reducing stream sedimentation and nutrient loading into Maryland’s waterways. 

The three member Board of Public Works is composed of Governor O’Malley (chair), Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.  The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultation contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement transactions.