News from the DNR Office of Communications

BPW Approves Preservation of 177 Acres through Rural Legacy Program

Easements in Charles and Wicomico Counties

Annapolis, Md. (June 1, 2011) — Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown today announced Board of Public Works (BPW) approval to preserve 177 acres of Maryland landscape, including 115 acres in the Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area and 62 acres in the Quantico Creek Rural Legacy area through the Rural Legacy Program. 

“The Rural Legacy Program allows us to protect the legacy of Maryland’s working farmers, while also extinguishing development rights to maintain the heritage and beauty of our State,” said Lieutenant Governor Brown.

Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area, Charles County – Preservation of the Thorne Property will permanently protect 115 acres of significant farmland and forest resources and will extinguish 36 development rights. 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.

Nanticoke River Watershed Rural Legacy Area, Wicomico County – Preservation of the Cooper Property will permanently protect 62 acres of agricultural and forest lands and will extinguish 10 development rights. Water quality will be protected in the Nanticoke River Watershed, which is the most diverse of all the Chesapeake Bay systems. This acquisition adds to past conservation efforts in the area, with more than 1,600 acres of protected lands within 3 miles of this property and completes Wicomico County’s Comprehensive Plan of maintaining the rural character in this immediate section of the county. The easement requires the establishment of riparian buffers along any streams that may develop on the property.

“This particular easement will fill a gap between existing preserved lands to create connectivity between the County’s various land preservation programs,” said Frank McKenzie of the Salisbury/Wicomico County Department of Planning, Zoning & Community Development.

The easement will be held by the Wicomico County Council and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Nanticoke River Watershed Rural Legacy Area totals 13,637 acres, of which about 41 percent will be protected upon the 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

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.

   June 1, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

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 a 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