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January 24, 2013

MET Protects 1,288 acres in 2012

by Martha
Stanley Easement in Talbot County

Stanley Easement in Talbot County

The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) worked with 10 landowners last year to protect 1,288 acres of scenic open space, forests and farmland in seven counties across the State. Most of these easements were donated and are held by MET together with a local or regional land trust and will protect the natural, historic and scenic resources on these lands for generations to come.

The total acreage preserved through perpetual conservation easements by county in 2012 was ─ 347 acres in Anne Arundel, 97 acres in Baltimore, 9.6 acres is Dorchester, 143 acres in Frederick, 225 acres in Wicomico, 270 acres in Queen Anne’s, and 196 acres in Talbot.

“I am pleased with MET’s success in terms of the amount of land protected this year,” said MET Director Elizabeth Buxton. “Even in this economy, conservation-minded land owners want to permanently protect their land.”

In Anne Arundel County, MET partnered with the Scenic Rivers Land Trust and the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust to forever preserve 250 acres of heavily-wooded stream valley along the Little Patuxent River. The woodland area, within view of Ft. Meade and Route 32, provides habitat for a variety of species including herons and State-listed threatened fish. The easement will also enhance water quality, and provide passive recreation and outdoor education opportunities. The District of Columbia’s Department of General Services helped preserve the area ─ which they also manage as part of a larger, 827-acre property ─ in Anne Arundel County. The District’s action finalizes the settlement of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrative case involving underground storage tanks at the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services facility, known as Oak Hill, located at in Laurel.

Additionally, the Scenic Rivers Land Trust and MET partnered to preserve a 97-acre recreational camp along the Patuxent River. The area consists of 74 acres of forested habitat for migratory song birds and other animals; 5,033 linear feet of stream channels, including frontage along the Patuxent River; and approximately 30 acres of high-quality wetlands that buffer the river.

In Baltimore County, a 70-acre property along Sunshine Avenue in Kingsville, that has been in the same family since 1834, is now forever protected through a conservation easement. The landowner had been deciding how to best save the property for several years. The easement will safeguard the area, its forest resources and the picturesque view along the State designated Scenic Byway.

MET also accepted a 27-acre easement to protect scenic farmland along Tufton Avenue in Baltimore’s Worthington Valley.

In Dorchester County,the Commissioners of East New Market gifted an easement of the 9.6-acre Friendship Park. Visitors to Friendship Park will have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and nature and wildlife appreciation and study. By granting an easement to MET, the Commissioners ensure that this parcel will forever be used as a park.

“It is satisfying to know that this pristine space is preserved for this generation, and for generations to come, expressing the desires of the citizens of East New Market,” said Mayor Cline of East New Market. “The support of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and MET were invaluable in helping us to achieve our objective.”

In Frederick County, MET forever protected a 143-acre forested property and its natural resources. The property serves as habitat for forest interior dwelling bird species and contains a portion of Tabler Run, a tributary of the Monocacy River that is in close proximity to other protected lands.

In Wicomico County, MET together with the Lower Shore Land Trust, Inc. helped the Smith family protect their lands. The 225-acre woodland is adjacent to a 101-acre Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program conservation easement. Together, the easements create a 327-acre block of preserved land.

In Queen Anne’s County, MET worked with federal, State and local partners to purchase a conservation easement on 270 acres of farm and forestland along the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway. The easement was purchased using federal transportation funds set aside for the protection of scenic views along the Byway. MET, together with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Queen Anne’s County and the Maryland State Highway Administration have been working cooperatively to permanently safegaurd key properties along the Byway and  the scenic, rural and agricultural character of this landscape.

In Talbot County, MET and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy worked with a family to preserve a 194-acre property of active farmland and forestland including important forested riparian area along Wootenaux Creek and approximately seven acres of wetlands. This property lies at the edge of Easton and serves as a gateway to rural Talbot County, which is dominated by active farmland.

Jennifer Stanley donated a conservation easement on 1.34 acres to the town of Oxford which will allow the public to enjoy the property’s woodlands and waterfront, with a newly created public park, and protect the health of Town Creek. The Stanley’s purchased the property in the early 1980s to save the wetland and a portion of Town Creek that was in danger of being developed.

These landowners voluntarily agreed to perpetual conservation easements on their property that will protect the natural, historic and scenic resources now and for generations to come. These easements contribute significantly toward meeting the State’s Chesapeake Bay Agreement goal for land conservation in the Bay watershed. MET is one of several land protection programs in Maryland working with landowners to preserve privately-owned scenic open space, forest and farmland. Donated conservation easements provide an easy and cost effective tool to landowners to protect their land and resources. The federal government and Maryland have enacted a number of financial incentives to encourage landowners to permanently protect their land. In addition, federal and State estate taxes can be reduced substantially for heirs of easement donors because a donated conservation easement tends to reduce the value of the protected land as a part of the overall estate. Click here to learn about the recently renewed land conservation tax incentive for 2013.

For more information on the Maryland Environmental Trust visit dnr.maryland.gov/met.

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