Rural Legacy Program Awards $13.5 Million to Protect Maryland Landscapes
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Rural Legacy Program Awards $13.5 Million to Protect Maryland Landscapes

Open farmland

Open farmland by Ed Liske

BPW approves easements in Charles and Worcester counties

The Rural Legacy Program will receive $13.5 million in Fiscal Year 2014 grants to permanently preserve working farms and important lands throughout Maryland. These grants fund conservation easements to protect air and water quality, wildlife habitat and farming communities. Governor Martin O’Malley and the Board of Public Works approved the funding at today’s meeting in Annapolis.

“By working with local partners and land trusts, the Rural Legacy Program allows us to protect not only forests and farms, but our natural resource-based economies and our cultural heritage,” said Governor O’Malley.

Fiscal Year 2014 Grants were awarded to:

Agricultural Security Corridor (Kent, Cecil, Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot) $1,120,000     
Anne Arundel South (Anne Arundel) $1,650,000
Deer Creek (Harford) $1,456,000
Dividing Creek (Somerset and Worcester) $1,000,000
Little Pipe Creek (Carroll) $650,000
Mattapany (St. Mary’s) $370,000
Mid-Maryland Frederick (Frederick) $1,731,000
Mid-Maryland Montgomery (Montgomery) $400,000
Mid-Maryland Washington (Washington) $1,245,000
Mountain Ridge (Allegany) $50,000
Nanticoke (Dorchester) $1,000,000
Patuxent (Prince George’s) $1,000,000
Piney Run (Baltimore) $960,000
Quantico Creek (Wicomico) $560,000
Zekiah (Charles) $320,000

Today, the State also added approximately 346 acres to its permanently protected rural landscape and eliminated 80 developmental rights in Charles and Worcester counties.

Located in the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area, the Greenwood property will permanently preserve a 122-acre farm and eliminate the potential development of 12 lots in Worcester County. The County Commissioners of Worcester County and the USDA will manage the easement.

“Its protection builds on over a decade of land protection in the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area and helps ensure that the rural character of the Chincoteague Bay watershed will be preserved for the generations to come,” said Worcester County Commissioner Bud Church.

Located in the Zekiah Rural Legacy Area, the Posey Property will permanently protect 225 acres and eliminate the potential development of 68 lots in Charles County. The County Commissioners of Charles County will hold the easement.

“A conservation easement will protect productive agricultural lands and woodland, and a 1,400-foot permanent wooded buffer to Zekiah Swamp Run that will work to enhance water quality,” said Charles Rice of the Charles County Government. “This acquisition would also connect a contiguous block of protected land totaling 1,544 acres.”

The wooded area on this tract along the Zekiah Swamp contains many diverse wetland habitats and supports several rare species. Prothonotary Warblers and Red-headed Woodpeckers frequent the property. The mature swamp forest also provides excellent habitat for Forest Interior Dwelling bird species, which depend on large tracts of contiguous forest for nesting sites.

Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program provides funding to preserve large tracts of valuable farmland, forests and natural areas, while protecting the land and its natural resource-based industries. Enacted by the General Assembly in 1997, the program has to date provided more than $249 million to protect 77,343 acres of valuable farmland, forests and natural areas. The 11-member Rural Legacy Advisory Committee and the Board is comprised of Maryland’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Planning Secretaries and reviews grant applications annually.

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.