The Rural Legacy Program was created in 1997
to protect large, contiguous tracts of Maryland's most precious cultural and
natural resource lands through grants made to local applicants. A great deal
of credit and praise goes to the Rural Legacy Advisory Committee, the Rural
Legacy Board, Maryland's Board of Public Works, and the General Assembly for
their support and advocacy of preserving "the best of what's left."
Rural Legacy applications are reviewed by the Rural Legacy Advisory
Committee, a panel of eleven volunteers appointed by the Governor. Their
recommendations are then forwarded to the Rural Legacy Board which is
comprised of the Secretaries of the Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Planning. Their
recommendations are, in turn, reviewed and approved by the Maryland Board of
Public Works, comprised of the Governor, the Comptroller and the Treasurer.
The following is a description of the all the approved Rural Legacy Areas
participating in the program.
Agricultural Security Corridor-Tuckahoe Focus Area
Agricultural Security Corridor-Marshyhope Focus Area
Agricultural Security Corridor-Sassafras Focus Area Sponsor: Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Inc.
Acres: 45,781 Jurisdiction: Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, and Talbot Counties
This Rural Legacy Area (RLA) combines three focus areas, the Marshyhope,
Sassafras, and Tuckahoe areas, into one large RLA. In 1994 the corridor
concept was developed to focus local, regional, and national efforts on one of
the largest, contiguous blocks of highly productive farmland in the rapidly
developing mid-Atlantic. Safeguarding the agricultural economy of the Eastern
Shore is the goal of the three Agricultural Security Corridor focus areas.
Located north and south of Federalsburg, the Marshyhope area is defined by an
important river corridor, prime farms soils, a concentration of stable farm
support businesses and an extensive public investment in farm preservation
easements. The Sassafras area includes the Sassafras Natural Resource
Management Area of Bloomfield Farm. The area is contiguous to thousands of
acres of donated easements and existing agricultural easements and districts.
It is rich in natural resources and historic farm structures dating from the
18th Century. The Tuckahoe area is located west and south of Denton. All three
focus areas serve as an anchor for agricultural production and investment,
buffering and enhancing the region’s natural, cultural, and open space
Arundel SouthSponsor: Anne Arundel County
Acres: 37,381Jurisdiction: Anne Arundel County
This Area is located in the heart of the County’s agricultural area. This
Area completes a greenway of gently rolling farmland from the Patuxent River
to the Rhode River on the Chesapeake Bay. The Area contains extensive tidal
fresh and forested wetlands. There are four watersheds within this Area: the
West River watershed, the Herring Bay watershed, the Rhode River watershed as
well as the Patuxent River watershed. Major roads outlining the Area represent
some of the County’s most scenic and historic roads that are dotted with large
tobacco barns, a fast disappearing icon of South Maryland’s historic
County CoastalSponsor: Baltimore County
Acres: 14,109Jurisdiction: Baltimore County
The northern boundary of this Area begins at the end of tidal influence in
the Gunpowder Falls in Baltimore County, follows the shoreline around
Gunpowder Delta Marsh/Day’s Cove section of Gunpowder Falls State Park, across
the mouth of the Bird River, and along the forested shorelines of Carroll
Island and Middle and Back River Necks. The Area continues to the east of
Rocky Point, diverges to encircle Hart-Miller Island, and further west to
include the marshes and forests of North Point State Park. The landward side
approximately follows the edge of the densely populated areas of eastern
Baltimore County back to the Gunpowder Delta. The RLA includes the highest
concentration of natural resources values in the County (forest and
agricultural lands as well as both fresh and tidal wetlands). Since the RLA
has been created, a contiguous block of over 1,500 protected acres has been
created on the Back River Neck peninsula. There are significant opportunities
for increasing public access to the Chesapeake Bay and to protect shorelines.
Bear Creek Sponsor: Garrett County
Acres: 31,437Jurisdiction: Garrett County
This Area protects the Bear Creek watershed in the northern part of Garrett
County. Garrett County’s most productive agricultural land is protected, which
ensures the long-term viability of agriculture in the Area. The RLA also
encompasses and provides additional protection for the Bear Creek drainage
basin, Deep Creek Lake, the Cove scenic overlook, the Bear Creek Fish
Hatchery, and a significant amount of State and private forested lands.
Working farms, standing timber, view sheds, natural habitats and waterways are
Calvert Creeks Sponsor: Calvert County Board of County Commissioners
Acres: 20,527Jurisdiction: Calvert County
This Area includes four watersheds along the Patuxent River. This Area
creates a greenbelt of protected land from the Patuxent River to the
Chesapeake Bay. Sensitive habitats and the area around Battle Creek Cypress
Swamp Sanctuary and Parkers Creek are protected. This Area provides public
access to Battle Creek and available hiking trails. Some of the most notable
cultural resources in the county are being protected, such as Calvert Town,
the Delhi Plantation, and archeological resources.
Carrollton Manor Sponsor: Carrollton Manor Land Trust & Frederick County
Acres: 38,265Jurisdiction: Frederick County
This Area creates an agricultural reserve/greenway through Central Maryland
connecting two other Rural Legacy Areas, the Mid-Maryland Montgomery RLA and
Mid-Maryland Frederick RLA. This Area includes farmland, river systems, scenic
byways, and historic communities and will support the local agricultural
economy, which produces beef, milk, hogs, horses, turkeys as well as corn,
wheat, soybeans alfalfa, and a variety of vegetables. The Potomac National
Heritage River and Monacacy Scenic River are within the RLA, as are two scenic
byways – Route 15 and Route 28. Civil War battlefield sites, the C & O
canal, and the land of Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll are
part of the historic significance of Carrollton Manor.
Coastal Bays Sponsor: County Commissioners of Worcester County
Acres: 29,285Jurisdiction: Worcester County
The Area is considered one of the most ecologically diverse in the state.
The Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area encompasses farms, forests, wetlands, and
wildlife habitats. This Area creates an east/west link between Pocomoke State
Forest, the E. A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area, and Assateague Island
National Seashore, creating a 70,000 acre block of preserved land. Falling
within the Atlantic Coast Flyway, the Coastal Bays are part of the
Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program. It also overlaps
one of seven United States Department of Agriculture’s designated forest
legacy areas. Protection bolsters the county’s major industries of tourism,
farming, forestry, and fishing.
Deer Creek (formerly Lower Deer Creek)
Sponsor: Harford County
Acres: 66,701Jurisdiction: Harford County
The Deer Creek Valley Rural Legacy Area is located in eastern Harford County. The Deer Creek Rural Legacy Area is located in eastern Harford County. The goal of the Rural Legacy Area is to preserve the historic rural character of the Deer Creek Valley while helping to protect the water quality along Deer Creek, connect other preserved properties, or are adjacent to protected lands leading to the establishment of a contiguous block of preserved land that is crucial to the character of the area. Most of the properties in the Area are actively farmed, and many contain significant natural and cultural resources including forests, habitats of rare, threatened and endangered species and over 400 inventoried historic sites. A portion of the Deer Creek Rural Legacy Area is included in the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, which is a Certified Maryland Heritage Area. In January 2009, the boundary of the Lower Deer Creek Rural Legacy Area was expanded to include the northern portion of the watershed, and renamed the Deer Creek Rural Legacy Area. This expansion connected the existing Lower Deer Creek Rural Legacy Area and the Manor Rural Legacy Area; creating a preservation belt from the Susquehanna River to Baltimore County.
Dividing Creek Sponsor: Somerset and Worcester Counties and The Nature Conservancy
Jurisdiction: Somerset and Worcester Counties
Dividing Creek Area includes one of the most pristine and ecologically significant watershed basins on the mid-Atlantic. Exemplary plant and wildlife habitats including Bald Cypress and Atlantic White Cedar swamps, forest interior and migratory songbirds, colonial waterbirds and the federally-endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel are found within the Area. The Area provides for the conservation of prime farmland, working forests and ten miles of shoreline of the Dividing Creek, which connects to the Pocomoke River, a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The Area adds to a large block of already protected lands including the Pocomoke State Forest and Park, the Nassawango Creek Preserve and the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area. Located in two Maryland counties, the Area is a prime example of a cooperative effort between the State, local governments and local conservation organizations to protect the valuable resources in the Area.
Fair Hill Sponsor: Cecil County Land Trust
Acres: 31,161Jurisdiction: Cecil County
The Fair Hill Rural Legacy Area is Cecil County’s most productive and
economically important agricultural region. Much of the Area is already under
various forms of protection. By contrast, the Area is also the most heavily
traveled and rapidly developing due to its proximity to the I-95/Rt. 40
corridor. This Area improves water quality in the Big and Little Elk Creek
watersheds and buffers and expands the state-owned Fair Hill Natural Resource
Management Area, a landscape indicative of Cecil County’s rural and natural
Foreman Branch (formerly Chino Farms)
Sponsor: Queen Anne’s County
Acres: 11,691Jurisdiction: Queen Anne’s County
The Foreman Branch Rural Legacy Area protects waterfront farms along the
south shore of the Chester River East of Chestertown. Foreman Branch has 2.5
miles of river frontage, a 90 acre lake managed as a sanctuary for Canada
Geese and other waterfowl, and several areas containing Delmarva Bays,
globally unique wetlands harboring a number of endangered species. Protection
of this Area will help improve the water quality of one of the most threatened
watersheds in the state, preserve farms, woodlands, wetlands and wildlife
habitat; and preserve one of the most scenic river landscapes in the
Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Gunpowder River Sponsor: Gunpowder Valley Conservancy
Acres: 13,819Jurisdiction: Baltimore County
The Area parallels the Gunpowder River and the adjacent River Valley
protecting historic farmland, forests, natural and cultural areas on both
sides of the Gunpowder River. This Area protects the Gunpowder's significant
river frontage, which also protect the drinking water source for the Baltimore
metropolitan area including Pretty Boy and Loch Raven Reservoirs. The scenic,
rural, recreational, and historic areas of the region are protected in this
Area, such as the popular Northern Central Railroad Trail.
Harriet TubmanSponsor: The Conservation Fund
This 28,300-acre Eastern Shore landscape is an area lying largely in and adjacent to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Easement acquisitions within this Rural Legacy Area will protect and conserve working lands that reflect the natural, cultural, and historic landscape of Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy. The Rural Legacy Area consists of a broad corridor of farms, forests, and wetlands that once constituted Tubman’s familiar home territory. The pattern of roads, watercourses, land use, and settlement remain intact and remarkably evocative of the mid-nineteenth century. There are roughly 11,528 acres of agricultural land and 14,251 acres of forest, and, when this Rural Legacy Area was established in 2018 approximately 23% of the area was already in some form of permanent protection. This Rural Legacy Area is the center of the Harriet Tubman Historic Area, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and encompasses the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center.
Huntersville Sponsor: Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust
Acres: 8,897Jurisdiction: St. Mary’s County
Located on the northern end of St. Mary’s County, the Huntersville Rural
Legacy Area includes twelve miles of Patuxent River shoreline extending from
Trent Hall Creek to Horse Landing. It has significant agricultural, forestry,
and environmental values including endangered species habitat, wetlands,
historic structures and archeological sites. Portions of the Area are
designated by the Smithsonian Center for Natural Areas as critical wildlife
habitat in need of protection.
Lands End Sponsor: Queen Anne’s County
Acres: 11,880Jurisdiction: Queen Anne’s County
The Area contains Conquest Farm, which provides public access to the
Corsica River, historic, agricultural/horticultural and environmental
interpretation, other passive recreational uses, and protects wetlands and
wildlife habitat. Significant amounts of shoreline along the Chester River is
in the Area as well as prime waterfowl habitat and agricultural production.
Little Pipe Creek Sponsor: Carroll County Commissioners
Acres: 58,526Jurisdiction: Carroll County
The Area protects farmland, woodland, natural and cultural land within the
Little Pipe Creek Watershed. Little Pipe Creek is a tributary of the Monocacy
River that begins in Westminster and flows through New Windsor. Little Pipe
Creek is an Area rich in surface streams and groundwater. The Area contains
many sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Area forms
a greenbelt around New Windsor, a National Register of Historic Places, and
buffers other preserved farmland. The Area also provides for a greenbelt around
Long Green Valley Sponsor: Long Green Valley Conservancy
Acres: 18,274Jurisdiction: Baltimore County
Located in the watershed of Long Green Creek, a tributary of Gunpowder
Falls, the Long Green Valley Area includes rolling, wooded uplands, a scenic
broad valley floor with pastures and farmland northeast between Gunpowder
Falls and Little Gunpowder Falls. The Area contains significant habitat and
wildlife corridors and much of the Area is in a National Register Historic
District. The Area minimizes development threats to sensitive lands adjacent
to the Loch Raven Reservoir and in the Long Green Valley.
Manor Sponsor: The Manor Conservancy
Acres: 28,434Jurisdiction: Baltimore and Harford Counties
The Manor Area is well known for its scenic beauty and historic structures,
including the National Register Historic District of My Lady’s Manor,
comprising the land given by the 3rd Lord Baltimore to his wife in 1713. The
Area includes many productive horse and cattle farms and the Little Gunpowder
Falls, a Class 3 trout stream and important Chesapeake tributary. Easement
purchases fill in and round out an existing large block of preserved private
lands enrolled in MET and MALPF easements. The Manor Area joins the Gunpowder
Rural Legacy Area on the west, and extends across the Harford and Baltimore
Mattapany Sponsor: Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust
Acres: 13,660Jurisdiction: St. Mary’s County
Located in the southern portion of St. Mary’s County, the Area protects rich farmland, forests, wetlands, historic sites and wildlife habitat. Conservation within the Area provides water quality benefits to the Chesapeake Bay and the Saint Mary’s River watershed, which has been described by the Smithsonian as the most beautiful and pristine estuary on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. Protection of property in this Area also provides open space buffer to the military installation, Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Mid-Maryland FrederickSponsor: Frederick County Board of County Commissioners and the Mid-Maryland Land Trust Association, Inc.
Acres: 25,791Jurisdiction: Frederick County
The Area borders the South Mountain area on the east side and is within the
viewshed of the Appalachian Trail and South Mountain State Park. The Area
builds on protecting two contiguous blocks of preserved land. Near Burkittsville and
near Myersville, a greenbelt of protected land buffers the
historic village of Burkittsville. Frederick County's most productive
agricultural lands such as dairy operations and livestock farms are protected which promotes the resource based economy of the area.
Mid-Maryland Montgomery Sponsor: Montgomery County
Acres: 49,907Jurisdiction: Montgomery County
The Area protects farmland, open space and natural resources located within the heart of the County’s Agricultural Reserve. The Area contains large contiguous tracts of rural lands, numerous agricultural operations, and forest resources rich in both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Conservation within the Area provides water quality benefits to the Potomac River, a Maryland designated Scenic River.
Mid-Maryland Washington Sponsor: Washington County Board of County Commissioners
Acres: 42,887Jurisdiction: Washington County
The Area protects farmland, forests and Civil War sites, within view of the Washington Monument State Park, South Mountain Battlefield State Park, Antietam National Battlefield and its approaches. The Area provides a greenbelt around the town of Sharpsburg. Conservation within the Area also provides water quality benefits to the Potomac River, a Maryland designated Scenic River.
Mountain Ridge Rural Legacy Area
Sponsor: Allegany County
Jurisdiction: Allegany County
Situated within the Ridge & Valley Physiographic Province where it meets the
Allegheny Front, the first rural legacy area in Allegany County includes large
blocks of unbroken forest, pristine ecologically significant areas and historic
sites. It includes exemplary plant and wildlife habitat, an important migration
corridor and perhaps the most significant golden eagle flyway in the state. The
Area is delineated around 10,163 acres of existing protected lands which may be
further connected and consolidated, forming a greenway potentially linking
ridgetops in West Virginia with Pennsylvania, as well as westward into the
Nanticoke Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy
Acres: 49,550Jurisdiction: Dorchester County
The Nanticoke RLA is located in the heart of the highly
acclaimed Nanticoke watershed in Dorchester County. This Nanticoke watershed
contains over one-third of all the State’s wetlands and is one of the most
pristine and ecologically significant watershed basins in the mid-Atlantic. A
greenbelt of exemplary plant and wildlife habitat, prime farmland, and large
blocks of working forests is protected along 16 miles of shoreline of the
Nanticoke River and Marshyhope Creek. The RLA creates growth
boundaries around the rural village of Vienna. The Nanticoke RLA links the
Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area, the USFWS Blackwater Refuge, the State
of Delaware’s Nanticoke Wildlife Area, and the existing Agriculture Security
Corridor – Marshyhope RLA.
North Calvert Sponsor: Calvert County
Acres: 10,515Jurisdiction: Calvert County
This Area forms an 8-mile long greenway along the Patuxent River, a State
Scenic River. Riparian buffers protect the sensitive wetlands and forests
of four watersheds and conserve farmland and forest land, and provides
habitat for resident and migrating species. The Area is also historically
significant, including the historic town of Lower Marlboro that was active in
the War of 1812 and was also an important port town until the 1930’s.
Conservation of property in this Area supports the local resource-based
Patuxent River – Prince George’s Sponsor: Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Acres: 34,984Jurisdiction: Prince George’s County
The Patuxent River Rural Legacy Area of Prince George’s County encompasses
farmland, forests and natural resources along the Patuxent River watershed
between Route 50 and Hughesville. It contains rural scenic roads, historic
villages, farmland, forests, the Patuxent River Park, Patuxent River Natural
Resource Management Area, and the Merkle Wildlife Management Area at Jug Bay.
The Area is also rich in historic structures, many of which have been acquired
for public use in the Patuxent Park system.
Piney RunSponsor: Land Preservation Trust, Inc.
Acres: 43,478Jurisdiction: Baltimore County
This Area creates a large contiguous area of protected land, which promotes agricultural and natural resource characteristics in Baltimore County. While 95% of the land is undeveloped due to significant zoning measures and regional growth objectives, of the Piney Run Rural Legacy
Area (RLA) protects the Baltimore water supply and one of the
largest, contiguous easement blocks of land supporting agriculture and natural
resource systems in the eastern United States.
Quantico Creek Sponsor: Wicomico County
Acres: 14,687Jurisdiction: Wicomico
The Area protects the rural character of the area and
conserves its natural and cultural resources through preserving farms, forests,
wetlands, water quality and wildlife habitat. This Area is recognized for its
rural character, open lands, cultural significance, natural wildlife habitat
and water quality impact on the Nanticoke Watershed. Protected land supports
Wicomico County’s resource-based economy, contributing to the tourism, outdoor
recreation, fishing, agriculture and forest industries.
Upper Patapsco Sponsor: Carroll County
Acres: 39,198Jurisdiction: Carroll
The Area protects some of the County’s most productive farmland that
can help secure a highly productive agricultural land base close to Baltimore.
This Area includes most of the drainage basin of the East Branch of the
Patapsco River, part of the West Branch, and makes up 16% of the Liberty
Reservoir watershed in Carroll County (a drinking water supply for the
metropolitan Baltimore area). The Maryland Historic Trust has identified
thirty-three historic sites, including churches, cemeteries, mills,
schoolhouses, and farmhouses relating to the traditional agricultural use of
the area. The Area also includes significant bog turtle habitat, a State
threatened species and a federally proposed threatened species.
Upper Patuxent Watershed - Howard CountySponsor: Howard County
Acres: 11,201Jurisdiction: Howard County
Land protection in the Area builds upon established private, county, and
state preservation programs. By protecting several groundwater resources and feeder systems, water quality of the Patuxent River is improved. Land
protection in the Area creates contiguous tracts of preserved farms and
environmentally sensitive lands.
Upper Patuxent River Reservoir Watershed - Montgomery County Sponsor: Montgomery County
Acres: 29,086Jurisdiction: Montgomery County
Land protection in this Area protects water quality in reservoirs and the
Patuxent River. The Area is adjacent to Patuxent River State Park. Land
protection creates contiguous tracts of preserved farms and
environmentally sensitive lands.
Zekiah Watershed Sponsor: Charles County
Acres: 30,918Jurisdiction: Charles County
The Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area follows the watershed boundaries of
the Zekiah Swamp Run. The Area is abundant with farms, forests, wetlands of
Special State Concern, historic and archeological sites, and deposits rich in
mineral aggregates. The Area contains the largest natural hardwood swamp in the state and is considered by the Smithsonian Institute to be one of the most important ecological areas on the East Coast.
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