The Board of Public Works today unanimously approved recommendations of nearly $20 million in Rural Legacy Program grants for conservation easements and expansion in 17 Maryland counties. Funding from these grants will permanently protect more than 4,500 acres of working farms, forests, marshes, open space, shorelines, and wetlands — plus cultural and historical resources — throughout the state.
The recommendations also include five Rural Legacy Area expansions, which provide the opportunity to protect more than 43,897 additional acres. Included in that amount is 30,591 acres that essentially doubles the size of the Zekiah Rural Legacy Area in Charles County, and 12,413 acres in Washington County that includes properties significant to Maryland history and to the viewshed from the C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail.
The projects were recommended by the Rural Legacy Board, which is chaired by Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and includes the secretaries of the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Planning. The Board of Public Works includes Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
“The Rural Legacy Program continues to serve as one of Maryland’s premiere means of preserving land, supporting local economies, and preserving our state’s quality of life,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “These grants and Rural Legacy Area expansions will benefit communities across the state both now and for future generations.”
DNR will submit individual contracts to purchase conservation easements to the Board of Public Works as the specific transactions arise.
Established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large tracts of productive and valuable agricultural and forested lands that contain exceptional features. The program acts through local government and private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 32 locally-designated rural areas located in every county.