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Maryland Land Trusts to Pilot New Technology for Conservation Monitoring

Maryland Environmental Trust, Lower Shore Land Trust Receive Grant

Satellite image of area along Choptank RiverThe Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) and  Lower Shore Land Trust, Inc. (LSLT) were jointly awarded a grant from the Land Trust Alliance and The Nature Conservancy-California to pilot state-of-the-art technology for monitoring land conservation easements.

This grant will allow LSLT and MET to use a new technology in support of annual conservation easement monitoring and ongoing outreach and contact with landowners. This new technique uses high-definition aerial and satellite imagery that may provide a new tool for visiting hard to reach properties over time and complete site evaluations in much less time than traditional “boots-on-the-ground” monitoring visits.

“This grant supports the critical efforts of our land trust partners to provide ongoing stewardship to Maryland’s conserved land,” MET Director John Turgeon said. “We are excited to partner with LSLT on this innovative project to explore the potential benefits of remote monitoring technology.”

Together, LSLT and MET will use satellite imagery to monitor 70,900 acres in the Chesapeake watershed this year. If the pilot project is successful, MET will work with other local land trusts in the state to adopt the technology. At the end of the grant period in spring 2022, LSLT and MET will make a joint presentation of their findings at an upcoming MET Land Trust Roundtable.

“We are excited to be part of this project and we are grateful for the partnership with MET and the investment from the Land Trust Alliance and The Nature Conservancy,” said LSLT Executive Director Kate Patton. “Nothing can replace the regular conversations and personal contact with property owners, but we’re hopeful that this technology will provide staff with the resources to focus on new conservation projects.”

LSLT is a local nonprofit land trust that serves Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. MET, a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is Maryland’s statewide land trust. LSLT and MET have been conservation partners for 30 years and jointly hold thousands of acres of Maryland’s farms, forests, and natural resources for current and future generations. 

Both organizations work with landowners to protect rural lands with conservation easements by permanently restricting development and some commercial land uses, and hold large easement portfolios protecting Maryland’s farms, forests and natural resources for current and future generations. LSLT looks after more than 23,400 acres while MET cares for nearly 140,000 acres. LSLT is an accredited land trust with the Land Trust Alliance and monitors all its easements annually and MET works with its partners statewide to monitor and steward co-held easement properties to ensure the terms of the easement are upheld.