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Governor O’Malley & Maryland Environment Trust Announce Preservation of a 745-acre Forest in Garrett County
Garrett County — Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Environment Trust today announced preservation of Bear Creek Ranch, a 745-acre forested property in Garrett County.
“We are thankful for the ongoing wise stewardship of Bear Creek Ranch by the Weitzell family. Their decision to allow a conservation easement on their property will protect Western Maryland’s cherished scenic ridge tops for current and future generations,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “I hope other landowners will be inspired by the Weitzell family’s diligent protection of the forest habitat and biodiversity on their property.”
Located off route 219, just north of Deep Creek Lake and west of Savage River State Forest, the property spans two ridge tops in the South Branch and protects the headwaters Bear Creek. The property’s high quality habitat for many rare, threatened and endangered species including the Tiger spiketail dragonfly, Southern Water Shrew and Glade Ferns earned it a high ecological ranking under the Governor’s new Program Open Space targeting system. Additional, the property provides rare habitat for forest interior dwelling birds, whose populations are declining in Maryland and throughout the eastern United States due to sprawl development and deforestation.
“The Maryland Environmental Trust has been anxiously awaiting the completion of the Bear Creek Ranch easement acquisition, a multi-year collaborative effort between MET, the Allegheny Highlands Conservancy and Maryland Department of Natural Resources,” said MET Executive Director Elizabeth Buxton. “Preservation of Bear Creek Ranch offers an impressive array of environmental benefits, including protecting pristine woodlands, habitat for more than a dozen rare, threatened and endangered species, and keeping Bear Creek healthy and clean. The conservation easement on the ranch includes special provisions that protect native biodiversity, enhance water quality, control harmful invasive and exotic species, and minimize forest fragmentation.”
Today, the Board of Public Works approved $860,000 of state-side Program Open Space funding to purchase a conservation easement that permanently protects the 745-acre forest from development.
Since 2007, Governor O'Malley and the Board of Public Works have preserved 15,765 acres of natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland. Since 1969, Program Open Space has protected more than 336,200 acres with funds from a percentage of the real estate transfer tax. Most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded by Program Open Space. Visit www.greenprint.maryland.gov for an interactive, statewide map showing the land protected by Program Open Space.
The three-member Board of Public Works, chaired by Governor O’Malley, is comprised of Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultant contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement actions.
A statewide land trust governed by a citizen board of trustees, The Maryland Environmental Trust, was established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly to preserve privately owned farm and forest lands and significant natural resources. MET is one of the oldest and most successful land trusts in the country. It holds more than 950 easements and has protected over 117,900 acres across the state. MET promotes the protection of open land through its Land Conservation Program, Monitoring and Stewardship Program and Local Land Trust Assistance Program. MET also provides grants to environmental education projects through the Keep Maryland Beautiful Program.
January 7, 2009
Contact: Olivia Campbell
410-260-8016 office I 410-507-7525 cell
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 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 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 12 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.