BPW Approves Preservation of 115 Acres in Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area - Southern Maryland Headline News

BPW Approves Preservation of 115 Acres in Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area

ANNAPOLIS (June 1, 2011) — The Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) approved the preservation 115 acres of Maryland landscape in the Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area in Charles County.

Preservation of the Thorne Property will permanently protect 115 acres of significant farmland and forest resources and will extinguish 36 development rights, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Water quality will be improved through the establishment and maintenance of forested buffers along 1,700 feet of Zekiah Swamp Run and wildlife habitat for several rare species, including prothonotary warblers and red-headed Woodpeckers, will be protected.

"Acquisition of the Thorne conservation easement will protect valuable forest interior dwelling bird habitat and productive farmland soils. The acquisition will also complete a permanently protected contiguous block of 1,856 acres," said Charles Rice with Charles County Planning.

This easement will be held by Charles County. The Zekiah Rural Legacy Area totals 31,000 acres, of which 19 percent will be protected upon completion of this project.

Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program provides funding to preserve large tracts of forestry and agricultural land and natural resources, and for environmental protection while sustaining land for natural resource-based industries. Enacted by the General Assembly in 1997, Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program has to date provided over $219 million to protect 70,716 acres of valuable farmland, forests, and natural areas. The 11-member Rural Legacy Advisory Committee and the Rural Legacy Board, which is comprised of Maryland’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Planning Secretaries, reviews grant applications annually. For additional information, visit http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/land/rurallegacy/.

The three member Board of Public Works is composed of Governor O’Malley (chair), Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultation contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement transactions.

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