This summer Worcester County has conserved an additional 1,801 acres of land through permanent easements.
Worcester County Environmental Programs (WCEP) professionals, in partnership with the Board of Public Works have added three new easements, two of which are located in the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Area (RLA) and one in the Coastal Bays RLA. The preservation projects represent a $1.8 million investment in permanent land preservation.
“Preserving and protecting contiguous, productive, and valuable farm and forest land in cooperation with private landowners and farmers is the objective of this program,” Planner Katherine Munson said. “This supports our local agricultural industries and helps ensure generations to come will have these limited resources available.”
From the press release:
Conserving these properties, which are located adjacent to other RLA protected lands, preserves productive farmland, timber resources, wildlife habitat, and natural shoreline in perpetuity, as the residential and commercial development rights are permanently removed from each property. Impervious surfaces, including poultry houses, are strictly limited. Landowners who participate in the program agree to comply with soil and water conservation and forest stewardship plans.
The Coastal Bays RLA is 45,945 acres in size and encompasses the entire Chincoteague Bay watershed, as well as a portion of the lower Pocomoke watershed. This includes sixteen miles of bay shoreline. The Dividing Creek RLA is 67,812 acres, which includes the entire Dividing Creek watershed in both Worcester and Somerset Counties. To date, WCEP has permanently protected 11,000 acres in these two RLAs with this program. Both counties have worked cooperatively with the Lower Shore Land Trust to preserve several thousand acres.
“Both RLAs were identified as essential to protect due to their abundance of wildlife habitat, prime farmland, and rural character,” Environmental Programs Director Robert Mitchell said. “This is what is also known as ‘green infrastructure.’ Green infrastructure is every bit as important to a community’s well-being as built infrastructure. Lower taxes, improved quality of life, and stronger environmental health are a few of the benefits typically gained from preserving open space.”
For more information, view the press release.