The Maryland Board of Public Works recently approved funding for the acquisition of conservation easements across Maryland through the state’s Rural Legacy Program.

The Rural Legacy Program was established in 1997 and has helped protect more than 103,000 acres of Maryland’s natural landscapes and resources. In this latest round of awards, an additional 4,500 acres of working farms, forests, open space, shorelines, and wetlands will now be protected.

Grants were made to acquire conservation easements in a dozen existing protected areas, including Zekiah Rural Legacy Area that is noted by the Smithsonian Institution to be one of the most important ecological areas on the East Coast because of its unique and robust natural hardwood swamp. The area was originally designated in 1998. In addition to these grants, the Board of Public Works approved expanding six existing Rural Legacy Areas, which will provide the opportunity to protect nearly 200,000 acres more.

Smart Growth Maryland is an on-the-record advocate for the expansion of the Zekiah Rural Legacy Area and the creation of a new Nanjemoy-Mattawomen Rural Legacy Area, also in Charles County. An application for the expansion is expected to be submitted to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in February 2020.


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