Board also expands Rural Legacy Areas in St. Marys and Worcester Counties
ANNAPOLIS, MD Emphasizing that the Rural Legacy Program is an essential element of Marylands conservation efforts, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. today announced Board of Public Works approval of $2,907,591 in Rural Legacy Program grants that involve four counties. The Board also approved expanding the Huntersville and Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Areas.
Since being established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program has preserved well in excess of 50,000 acres of rural land, said Governor Ehrlich. In the years ahead, this excellent land conservation program will continue to serve Marylanders by protecting our forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, watersheds, and riparian buffers.
The Board is composed of Governor Ehrlich, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.
Grants totaling $2,907,591 will fund land conservation efforts in four Rural Legacy Areas. Requests for boundary expansions were approved for two areas. Todays Board approvals involve six counties:
Calvert County North Calvert Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved a $350,000 grant to acquire property and conservation easements in the North Calvert Rural Legacy Area, which forms an 8-mile greenway along the Patuxent River, a State Scenic River. Acquisitions will protect farmland and forests, provide habitat for wildlife, and preserve or establish riparian buffers that protect wetlands and tributaries. The area encompasses locations of historical significance, such as the town of Lower Marlboro, which played a role in the War of 1812 and was an important port town until the 1930s. Conservation of property in this area will support the local resource-based economy. The Board approved the designation of the North Calvert Rural Legacy Area in 2004.
St. Marys CountyHuntersville Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved expanding the Huntersville Rural Legacy Area to the west of the current boundary. This expansion provides opportunities to augment a contiguous block of protected lands. The additional land includes the environmentally significant upper tributaries of the Patuxent River, a State Scenic River. The entire area includes forests, farmland, archeological sites, and historic sites. The Board approved the designation of the Huntersville Rural Legacy Area in 1998.
Carroll CountyUpper Patapsco Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved a $350,000 grant to acquire conservation easements in the Upper Patapsco Rural Legacy Area. The area includes most of the drainage basin of the East Branch of the Patapsco River, part of the drainage basin of the West Branch, and 16 percent of the Liberty Reservoir watershed in Carroll County (The reservoir supplies water to the Baltimore metropolitan area). Acquisitions will protect some of Carroll Countys most productive farmland, all of which is close to Baltimore. The Maryland Historical Trust has identified 33 historic sites in the area, including churches, cemeteries, mills, schoolhouses, and farmhouses. The area also contains significant habitat of the bog turtle, a state threatened species and a federally proposed threatened species. The Board approved the designation of the Upper Patapsco Rural Legacy Area in 2004.
Cecil CountyAgricultural Security Corridor Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved a $2 million grant to acquire conservation easements in the Sassafras Focus Area of the Agricultural Security Corridor Rural Legacy Area. Resources to be protected through easements include forests, farmland, wetlands of special state concern, historic sites, and habitat for the Puritan tiger beetle, an endangered species. Water quality within the Sassafras Focus Area will be protected through buffers along Money Creek, Pond Creek, and the Sassafras River. These buffers will also serve as a rich network of upland and wetland habitats for wildlife and birds. Additionally, conservation of property will support the local resource-based economy. The Board approved the designation of the Agricultural Security Corridor Rural Legacy Area in 1998.
Frederick CountyCarrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved a $207,591 grant to acquire conservation easements in the Carrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area. Acquisitions will protect farmland, river systems, scenic byways, historic landscapes, and greenbelts around historic communities. This area is located within the Recognized Civil War Heritage Area, designated as such by the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, and includes a portion of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Corridor, considered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to be one of the most endangered historic places. The Potomac River, a National Heritage River, and the Monocacy River, a Maryland Scenic River, flow through this Rural Legacy Area. Conservation of property will support the local resource-based economy. The Board approved the designation of the Carrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area in 2004.
Worcester CountyCoastal Bays Rural Legacy Area
The Board approved expanding the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area to the northwest of the current boundary. This expansion allows further enhancement of a greenway of protected land connecting Pocomoke State Forest to the shoreline and the E. A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area. The additional land includes environmentally significant tributaries of the lower Pocomoke River. The entire area contains important tidal marshlands, forests, and farmland, which provide outstanding wildlife habitats that are considered to be among the most ecologically diverse in Maryland. The Board approved the designation of the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area in 1998.
The Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large blocks of contiguous open space that are among Marylands most valuable lands because of their multiple agricultural, forest, natural, and cultural resources. To protect these resources, the Rural Legacy Program acts through local governments and private land-trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners.
Since assuming office, the Ehrlich Administration and its partners have invested more than $64 million to protect over 31,000 acres of land to help restore the Bay and its surrounding environment. With nearly one in every five acres permanently protected in Maryland, the state remains a national leader in land preservation.