OPINION: Maryland is Smart, Green, and Growing

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

Today we not only have the intellect and imagination to harness nature, we also have the ability, compassion and responsibility to protect and conserve it. We are blessed with the free will to choose, as individuals and as One Maryland, whether we will care for our natural world or whether we consume and destroy her without regard for our children or theirs.

It is from our commitment to protect the Earth that we have created GreenPrint (http://greenprint.maryland.gov/), a first of its kind interactive land conservation map that will help us achieve our shared vision for a Smart, Green & Growing Maryland.

Some four hundred years after Captain John Smith first mapped the Chesapeake Bay, yesterday we launched a statewide iMap, a GreenPrint of Maryland every bit as revolutionary, and carrying with it the same potential to unlock the doors of possibility for future generations.

Using cutting edge technology and timeless principles for targeting progress and measuring performance, GreenPrint shows how Maryland's land conservation programs and its partners are working together to conserve our most important ecological, cultural and historic landscapes –- lands that will help us restore the health of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve the quality of life for all Marylanders.

By mapping every parcel and plot of land in our State, we are creating a tool that can be used by our partners, including Maryland's citizens, to help preserve land and direct new growth.

More than 150 conservation leaders and elected officials, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, joined us yesterday for an historic announcement that included a proposal to acquire 9,242 acres of some of the most ecologically and historically significant forest, farm and shorelines in the State through Program Open Space, as well as the 2009 Rural Legacy grants. Together, more than eighty percent of these lands lie within a high priority conservation or targeted ecological focus area and exemplify the benefit of GreenPrint. If approved by the Board of Public Works, these proposed acquisitions, will more than double our land conservation progress over the last two years.

Our land is a finite resource. Once it is changed, it is changed forever. But working together as One Maryland, we can make the decisions that will allow us to achieve our shared vision for a smarter, greener, more sustainable future.

See also: http://www.green.maryland.gov/

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