Maryland Preserves Nearly 5000 Acres of Private Land
The Board of Public Works approved preservation of one of the largest privately-owned contiguous forestlands in Maryland, a 4,769 acre-property located in Worcester County.
"We took advantage of a historical opportunity to permanently protect a great natural treasure on Maryland's Eastern Shore, one that offers boundless outdoor recreation and sustainable, green job opportunities," said Governor Martin O’Malley."Protecting this invaluable wildlife habitat and pristine landscape is a legacy that Maryland's families expect and deserve, and the wisest use of our Program Open Space funds."
Located in the Nassawango Creek and Pocomoke River watersheds, the Foster property borders the state’s certified sustainably-managed Chesapeake State Forests, and received one of the highest ecological rankings to date under the Governor’s new Program Open Space targeting system. Five rare, threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species, including White-fringed orchids, inhabit the property.
"One of the most precious legacies we can leave our children is a beautiful landscape that they can value as much as we do," Congressman Wayne Gilchrest who helped secure federal funding for the acquisition. "Bald eagles soar and scarlet tanagers fly free amidst the loblolly pines, bald cypress and old oaks on this breathtaking property."
The property, preserved through collaboration among The Nature Conservancy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, State Highway Administration, Maryland Department of General Services and the U.S. Department of Transportation will be purchased for $14,400,000 that includes funds from state-side Program Open Space and $5,110,609 in federal SAFETEA funds. The average cost per acre is just over $3,000.
"The Foster property is just such a priority, and its protection by the State, together with The Nature Conservancy's holdings at our Nassawango Creek Preserve, will create an expansive natural gem that future generations of Marylanders will be able to enjoy for years to come," said Nat Williams, Director of The Nature Conservancy of Maryland/DC.
Since 2007, Governor O'Malley and the Board of Public Works have preserved 15,765 acres of natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland. Since 1969, Program Open Space has protected more than 336,200 acres with funds from a percentage of the real estate transfer tax. Most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded by Program Open Space. Visit www.greenprint.maryland.gov for an interactive, statewide map showing the land protected by Program Open Space.
The Board of Public Works also approved a total of $13,460,700 in Rural Legacy grants to help preserve agricultural, forestry, natural and cultural resources in 20 Maryland counties. Enacted by the General Assembly in 1997, Maryland's Rural Legacy Program has provided more than $174.6 million to protect 60,882 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 competitive grant applications annually.
The three-member Board of Public Works, chaired by Governor O'Malley, is comprised of Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultant contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement actions.