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Maryland Landowners Donate Nearly 3,300 Acres of Conservation Easements in 2006
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Maryland landowners protected 3,264 acres of private farmland, woodland and scenic open space during 2006 by donating perpetual conservation easements to the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), ensuring that these properties will remain forever untouched by subdivision and development.
The new easements on the Eastern Shore include 910 acres in Dorchester County, 466 acres in Somerset County, 211 acres in Queen Anne’s County, 114 acres in Worcester County, and 87 acres in Caroline County. On the western shore, the new easements include 481 acres in Charles County, 342 acres in Baltimore County, 269 acres in Frederick County, 188 acres in Anne Arundel County, 118 acres in Washington County, 71 acres in Prince George’s County, 4 acres in Baltimore City, and 3 acres in Howard County. The largest easement donated was 466 acres in Somerset County. Most of the easements are held jointly with MET’s local land trust partners.
A wide variety of conservation values are represented by the protected properties. For example, one Dorchester County landowner conserved 454 acres of farmlands, wetlands and woodlands providing critical habitat for forest interior dwelling birds. In the Worthington Valley Historic District of Baltimore County, the Trust accepted a 152-acre easement that will add to a cluster of over 2,000 acres of MET and farmland preservation easements. And in western Washington County, the owners of a mountainside property along scenic Route 40 protected 118 acres of forest and wildlife habitat adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s Sideling Hill Creek Preserve.
“More and more Maryland landowners seem to be learning from their friends, neighbors, advisors and local land trusts that land conservation is something they can do for themselves,” the Trust reports. With supportive agencies and nonprofits to help them out, the circle of easement donors grows wider and wider. The property owner benefits from the tax incentives available, the natural resources and farmland are conserved, and the cost savings from gift easements mean that government programs need not use taxpayer dollars to buy them. It’s a win-win-win.”
The Maryland Environmental Trust has now protected over 112,000 acres statewide since 1972.
MET is authorized by law to accept private donations of interests in real estate, money or other property; such gifts are tax deductible. In giving conservation easements, landowners donate the development rights on their property while retaining all other rights of ownership. Public access is not a requirement.
Easement donations to the Trust may be eligible for a federal income tax deduction, a state income tax deduction or credit, and a property tax credit. On the federal level, the charitable deductions that a landowner may claim on his/her income tax return for the donation of a qualifying conservation easement increased substantially as of August 2006, especially for farmers and ranchers. These new federal tax benefits are set to expire at the end of 2007, unless Congress acts to extend them.
For further information, contact the Maryland Environmental Trust, 100 Community Place, Crownsville, MD 21032 (toll free 877-514-7900 or 410-514-7900) or visit the Trust’s websites at www.dnr.maryland.gov/met and www.conservemd.org.
January 8, 2007
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov