News from the DNR Office of Communications

BPW Approves Preservation of 540 Acres Through Rural Legacy Program

Easements in Somerset, Washington, and Worcester Counties

Annapolis, Md. (October 20, 2010) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced Board of Public Works (BPW) approval to preserve 540 acres of Maryland landscape, including 170 acres in the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area, 330 acres in the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Area, and 40 acres in the Mid-Maryland Washington Rural Legacy Area through the Rural Legacy Program.

“We continue to protect working Maryland families by preserving our State’s working farms and forests through the Rural Legacy program,” said Governor O’Malley.

Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area (Worcester County) – In the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area, McCabe’s Corner Properties, LLC is a 150-acre preservation that will extinguish 14 development lots. Another property, Rural Integrity Land, LLC, a 20-acre tract will extinguish six development lots. These easements will protect land that contains important breeding and stopover habitat for migratory song birds and raptors, and all forest management will be in accordance with a Forest Stewardship Plan. The permanent protection of these properties will expand a block of protected land in the Chincoteague Bay watershed. Together, these easements will establish 3,654 feet of riparian buffers along Riley Creek, a tributary of Chincoteague Bay. The easements will be held by the County Commissioners of Worcester County.

“The Rural Legacy Program in Worcester County ensures that farmland remains in the lower Chincoteague Bay watershed and sensitive resources are protected,” said Katherine Munson, Program Administrator in the Worcester County Department of Comprehensive Planning. “Worcester County is pleased to add nearly 200 acres to our inventory of acres of protected land in the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area. These properties contain high quality farmland and are adjacent to Riley Creek, a sensitive wetland system that feeds Chincoteague Bay. The forest buffers required by the Rural Legacy Program will ensure that Riley Creek is adequately protected in perpetuity.”

The Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area in Worcester County totals 26,110 acres of farm and forestland, of which 10,609 acres are currently protected.

Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Area (Somerset and Worcester Counties) – In the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Area, preservation of the 196-acre Nelson property in Somerset County will extinguish 43 development lots, and the 134-acre Glad Mar Dairy Land Company Inc. property in Worcester County will extinguish three development lots. This easement will also establish 800 feet of riparian buffers along a tributary of the Pocomoke River. Both easements will protect significant agricultural and forested lands, and all forest management will be in accordance with a Forest Stewardship Plan.

The Dividing Creek project is a perfect example of how Rural Legacy is working with our farm families to keep farming viable and ensure healthy buffers on streams and Forest Stewardship Plans for forested areas,” said Liz Zucker of The Nature Conservancy. “These projects add 330 acres to Maryland's Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area, and demonstrate a partnership with the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the state Rural Legacy Program working together to stretch limited conservation funds.”

Mid-Maryland Washington Rural Legacy Area (Washington County) – The Hirrlinger Farm, a 40-acre farm in Washington County will extinguish three development lots. This easement is nearly 100 percent wooded and will permanently protect land that provides valuable habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife, including forest interior dwelling species (FIDS), migratory song birds, and raptors. The easement, which will be held by Washington County, is consistent with a pursuant to the Washington County Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in 2002. The Hirrlinger farm is located in the Preservation Area, which was created and adopted in the County’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan to protect agricultural land and open space.

The Hirrlinger farm easement will increase the amount of land permanently protected in the Antietam National Battlefield viewshed to more than 8,300 acres. The property is adjacent to a significant American Civil War site known as Hawk’s Hill, which was the scene of extensive troop activity throughout the Civil War, including the Battle of Antietam.

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 $206 million to protect 67,894 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.


   October 20, 2010

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

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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