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Board of Public Works Approves $6.3 Million for Park Improvements and Land Conservation

Funding approved for DNR’s Local Parks and Playgrounds Infrastructure and Rural Legacy programs

Photo of llama in a field

Agricultural Security Corridor Rural Legacy Area will expand with the addition of two properties in Caroline and Talbot counties. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

The Board of Public Works today approved Maryland Department of Natural Resources items totaling $6.3 million in grants to local governments and land trusts to improve parks and protect land with perpetual conservation easements.

A total of $480,000 in Program Open Space – Local was approved for four projects including a Washington County project to provide new access to and parking for the Antietam Creek Waterway Trail. Program Open Space – Local provides funding for county and municipal governments for the planning, acquisition, and development of recreational land or facilities.

Also approved was $2.6 million from the Local Parks and Playgrounds Infrastructure Program for three projects in Prince George’s County. The county will use the funds to replace playgrounds at Lane Manor Park and Bladensburg Waterfront Park and construct improvements at Park Berkshire Park including a loop walking trail, ADA-compliant pedestrian access, renovation of athletic fields, and playground improvements. The Local Parks and Playgrounds Infrastructure Program was funded in FY 2022 and FY 2023 to provide grant funds primarily to local governments for park and recreation projects.

More than $2.7 million in Rural Legacy funding was approved for local sponsors to acquire conservation easements on five properties across five different counties and totaling 730 acres:

  • The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy will preserve two properties in the Agricultural Security Corridor – Tuckahoe Rural Legacy Area. These include one property in Talbot County and another in Caroline County, both containing prime farmland and scenic views along public roads.
  • An easement on a 200-acre forested property in the Calvert Creeks Rural Legacy Area will be held by the Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Board Inc., and protect more than two miles in streams in the Patuxent River watershed.
  • Wicomico County and the Lower Shore Land Trust will acquire an easement on 300 acres in the Quantico Creek Rural Legacy Area with conservation attributes including preserving prime farmland, scenic views from a public road, and stream buffer across a half-mile shoreline along Barren Creek.
  • In Carroll County, an easement in the Upper Patapsco Rural Legacy Area will protect productive farmland, scenic roadside views, and buffer a creek that is part of the watershed for the Liberty Reservoir, an important source of drinking water for the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.

In addition, $460,000 was approved for a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program easement on a 90-acre property in Frederick County. This conservation easement will protect water quality in the Catoctin Creek watershed by retaining forested and grassed buffers on the property in perpetuity.

All projects funded are listed in the Board of Public Works July 3, 2024 meeting agenda. The three-member Board of Public Works is composed of Governor Wes Moore, Treasurer Dereck E. Davis and Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman.

The Rural Legacy Program, created in 1997, conserves large working landscapes across 35 locally designated areas throughout Maryland. 

Since 2009, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Permanent Easement Program has purchased, from willing landowners, conservation easements that require continued maintenance of Conservation Reserve Program practices after the expiration of the federal contracts.

Established under the Department of Natural Resources in 1969, Program Open Space (divided into Local and Stateside programs), along with other state land conservation programs, symbolizes Maryland’s long-term commitment to conserving our natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities for all citizens.