The Board of Public Works today unanimously approved more than $26.2 million in Rural Legacy Program grants for conservation easements in 17 counties. Funding from these grants will permanently protect about 6,000 acres of working farms, forests, open space, shorelines, and wetlands — plus cultural and historical resources — throughout the state.
Additionally, the board approved the designation of a new Rural Legacy Area in Charles County, the 64,000-acre Nanjemoy-Mattawoman Forest Rural Legacy Area. The designation will provide the opportunity to protect farmland, forests, natural areas, and historic properties within the Nanjemoy and Mattawoman watersheds.
The Board of Public Works includes Governor Larry Hogan (with Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford standing in for this vote), Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp. The projects were recommended by the Rural Legacy Board, which consists of the Secretaries of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and the Maryland Department of Planning.
“The Rural Legacy Program is one of Maryland’s most important tools for preserving and protecting our natural resources as well as significant agricultural lands and forest lands,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “Throughout this program’s history, we have successfully worked with local partners, landowners, and nonprofit organizations to maintain Maryland’s rural character and our natural-resource based industries.”
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 or private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 33 locally-designated rural areas located in every county. Now celebrating 22 years since the first acquisition, to date, the program has permanently protected more than 112,500 acres.
Details of the projects are on the Board of Public Works website. DNR will submit individual contracts to purchase conservation easements to the Board of Public Works as the specific transactions arise.