Nearly 3,500 Acres on Eastern Shore Added to Chesapeake Forest Land
Program Open Space Acquisition to Benefit Maryland’s Natural Resource-Based Economies
In one of the largest acquisitions of its kind, the Board of Public Works today approved funding to secure 3,486 acres of prime forest land on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore for economic, environmental and recreational purposes. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will manage the property as part of its Chesapeake Forest Lands, helping to preserve the state’s sustainable forest products industry.
“This acquisition will help the state solidify its significant progress toward meeting our Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals by safeguarding important natural resources, including land and water within the watershed,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Even more, Maryland’s natural resource-based economies and industries, like paper and timber will see benefits, as the new tracts will provide for a sustainable timber harvest and increased hunting and recreation opportunities.”
Purchased at a discount for $6.53 million with funding from Program Open Space, the property is comprised of forested tracts spanning three counties: 623 acres in Somerset, 972 in Wicomico and 1,890 in Worcester. This acquisition was done in cooperation with The Conservation Fund, and will help Maryland meet conservation goals while providing for public recreation opportunities and support for natural resource-based economies. With this acquisition, the Chesapeake Forest Lands will increase to 71,208 acres.
This site will be managed by the Maryland Forest Service in accordance with the state’s duel forest certification through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council.
“Sustainable management means that we will incorporate all components that make up a forest, including living resources, ecological processes and economical uses, so that they remain healthy and productive into the future,” Forest Service Acting Director Don VanHassent said. “This particular site will work to filter runoff in the nearby Wicomico and Pocomoke rivers, and, after uses are decided through a public involvement process, could very well serve as a destination for hunters and anglers.”
Created by the state in 2000, the Chesapeake Forest Lands program on the Eastern Shore now serves as a national model for public/private partnership, sustainable forestry management and ecosystem conservation on public lands. This purchase marks the second largest in Chesapeake Forest Lands history, following behind a 4,900-acre acquisition in 2009.