News from the DNR Office of Communications

Maryland Environmental Trust Preserves 486 Acres Of Scenic Farmland And Forestland In Queen Anne's County

Crownsville, Md. (September 9, 2010) —  The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) has joined local land owners as well as State and federal partners to preserve 486 acres of forests and farmlands located on two farms in Queen Anne’s County. Thanks to conservation easement agreements between the owners of the two properties, MET and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Brown’s Branch Farm and Home Farm are now permanently protected from development. The easements to preserve these properties were approved by the Board of Public Works on July 7, 2010.

“The Maryland Environmental Trust is pleased to work with Queen Anne’s County, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy to help these landowners protect their farms,” said Elizabeth Buxton, MET Director. “The scenic views of these farms will be forever enjoyed by travelers on adjacent roads and ensures the rural and agricultural character of the area is preserved.”

Brown’s Branch Farm is a 218-acre farm located in Church Hill, Md. that boasts a half-mile of scenic frontage along the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway and nearly two miles of scenic frontage along Browns Branch. In addition, habitat for a federally-listed endangered species found along Browns Branch is now protected by the conservation easement. This beautiful farm, identified by Maryland’s GreenPrint mapping tool as within a targeted ecological area, will remain in the hands of the owner with the assurance that the scenic views and wildlife habitat will remain for future generations. The landowner sold the conservation easement for 20 percent less than the appraised value.

The conservation easement was purchased on Brown’s Branch Farm using federal transportation funds earmarked for the protection of scenic views along the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway. Former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest was instrumental in getting these funds earmarked for the Byway. MET, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the State Highway Administration as well as Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties are partners in working to protect key properties along the Byway.

Home Farm is a 267-acre farm just outside Kingstown, Md. Of the 276 acres, 238 acres are classified as prime farmland soils, which will always be available for farming due to the conservation easement. Home Farm is also adjacent to a 3,866-acre block of protected farmland and is an integral part of the predominantly agricultural setting of the area. Scenic views of the fields can be enjoyed by travelers of Maryland Route 544.

To protect Home Farm, MET partnered with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Queen Anne’s County and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A conservation easement was purchased on Home Farm using funds from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program administered by NRCS and with funds from the Queen Anne’s County Critical Farms Program. The landowner sold the conservation easement for 15 percent less than the appraised value.

“We are so pleased to be part of this collaborative effort to protect these valuable farms,” said Paul Gunther, Queen Anne’s County Commissioner. “These types of successful projects illustrate just how government agencies and private organizations can work together to preserve land along sensitive areas.”

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.

The Maryland Environmental Trust was established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly to preserve privately owned farm, forest and other significant lands and has since protected over 125,000 acres statewide. MET is one of the oldest and most successful land trusts in the country, and 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. For more information, visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/met and www.conservemd.org.


   September 9, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million 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 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