January 27, 2023

Grants Awarded for County Conservation Efforts

Conservation

The Maryland Board of Public Works’ Rural Legacy Board approved more than $27.1 million in Rural Legacy Program grants for conservation easement acquisitions, reflecting the highest annual amount appropriated since 2002. St. Mary’s County’s two Rural Legacy Areas are part of the grant award.

Funding from these grants will permanently protect working farms, forests, open space, shorelines, and wetlands — plus cultural and historical resources.

The Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust received a grant for $852,262 for the Huntersville Rural Legacy Area. These funds will be used to acquire conservation easements to protect forests, natural and archeological areas, farmland, and historic sites. Portions of the area are designated by the Smithsonian Center for Natural Areas as critical wildlife habitat in need of protection. The board approved the designation of the Huntersville Rural Legacy Area in 1998.

Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development received a grant for $493,984 for the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area. This grant will match Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) funds to acquire conservation easements protecting the area’s farmland, forests, wetlands, historic sites, and wildlife habitat. The board approved the designation of the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area in 2006.

To date, more than 29,000 acres of land have been permanently preserved though various agriculture land preservation programs in St. Mary’s County.

The Rural Legacy Board also approved an expansion of 17,065 acres in the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area, almost doubling the size of this preservation boundary.

Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development requested the expansion of the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area. The additional acreage represents environmentally significant land bordering the St. Mary’s and Potomac rivers, as well as areas surrounding the Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field (WOLF). Conservation within the area will provide water quality benefits and prevent encroachment on the Navy’s operations at WOLF.

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