State and Local Funds Combine for $34 Million Investment in Land Preservation
ANNAPOLIS - Governor Martin O'Malley last Wednesday announced Board of Public Works approval of the purchase of 40 easements protecting 5,143 acres of prime Maryland farmland in 19 counties for nearly $34 million in State and local funding. This approval brings the total farmland protected in perpetuity by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) in Maryland to 255,614 acres. The Board is comprised of the Governor, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot.
352.36 acres of the total easements purchased reside in So. Maryland. Two easements consisting of 277.62 acres were purchased in Charles County at a total cost of $2,687,618.15 ($9,680.92 per acre). One easement consisting of 74.74 acres was purchased in St. Mary's County at a total cost of $1,430,932.85 ($19,145.47 per acre). No easements were purchased in Calvert County.
"Today's purchase of easements on over 5,000 acres shows Maryland's commitment to keeping farming a viable and sustainable industry in the State," said Governor O'Malley. "Working with local partners and our farmers, Maryland continues to shine as a national model of a successful agricultural land preservation program. By keeping Maryland's farmers on the land, we are able to preserve open space, protect our natural resources, and maintain the agricultural heritage of our State."
Created by the General Assembly in 1977, MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland and has permanently preserved land in each of Maryland's 23 counties, representing a public investment of over $400 million. With county and other state preservation programs, more than 430,000 acres of farmland are protected in Maryland. This is the greatest ratio of farmland-preserved-to-total-landmass of any state.
According to a survey conducted by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy last year, public opinion supports this investment. A full 88 percent of respondents believe that it is important that the state preserve farmland for farming. Marylanders believe that farms and the products they produce should remain a part of the State's culture and economy, says the Governor's office.