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Rural Legacy Program Preserves Land in Washington County

The Rural Legacy Program continues to protect beautiful farmlands statewide. Photo by Frank Tiralla III.

The Rural Legacy Program continues to protect beautiful farmlands statewide. Photo by Frank Tiralla III.

The State has added more than 200 acres to its permanently protected rural landscape, eliminating nine developmental rights in Washington County. Governor Martin O’Malley and the Board of Public Works approved the funding at today’s meeting in Annapolis.

“The Rural Legacy Program will ensure the Mullendore Farm will forever remain an important part of Maryland history, while also preserving a beautiful ecological area, through a permanent conservation easement,” said Governor O’Malley. “The property will perpetually support clean air and water, while representing the stories and remnants of our State’s rural past.

The Mullendore Farm easement, adjacent to the Appalachian Trail buffer, will permanently protect 206 acres in near Gapland. The land is located within the nearly 43,000-acre Mid-Maryland Washington Rural Legacy Area, which contains 18,175 protected acres. The property is part of a centuries old agricultural heritage in Washington County.

The easement contains trees buffers along 4,500 feet of two unnamed streams that drain into Antietam Creek watershed. The area also holds a forest stewardship plan protecting 35 acres of woodland, which neighbors thousands of woodland acres.

The Mullendore farm served as a staging ground for the Confederate attack at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap, as well as a part of their retreat route, according to experts on the Battle of South Mountain.  Union troops under the command of General Franklin undoubtedly camped on the property on the nights prior to the Battle of Antietam, as Franklin used a neighboring house owned by the Crampton family as his base of operations.

The house on the farm is on the National Register of Historic Places, and part of the land itself overlaps the Crampton’s Gap Historic District. The property was discussed at length in James H. Johnson’s biography, From Slave Ship To Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African-American Family, which chronicles six generations of African-American families in Maryland from colonial times to present day.

Enacted by the General Assembly in 1997, Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program provides funding to preserve large tracts of forests, agricultural land, and natural resources, while sustaining land for natural resource-based industries. It has to date provided more than $249 million to protect nearly 78,000 acres. The 11-member Rural Legacy Advisory Committee and Board, comprised of Maryland’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Planning Secretaries, 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.