County Executive Steve Schuh recently announced an unprecedented investment to protect 266 acres of ecologically valuable and sensitive forest in Crownsville, Gambrills, and Churchton.
“We are very proud of this innovative partnership to preserve large tracts of green space,” Schuh said. “The selected properties all rank highly under the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Green Infrastructure and Targeted Ecological Area programs. They are listed as habitat for forest interior dwelling bird species, and substantial portions are in the Critical Area. One of the properties abuts designated scenic and historic roads, preserving the picturesque beauty of our County.”
Partnering with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the County will spend $1.9 million of fee-in-lieu funds generated from the Forest Conservation Act and the Critical Area Law to protect and reforest four properties. The awards are nearly double the amount awarded in 2017.
“This program demonstrates the County’s commitment to creative collaboration. It is unique in Maryland and serves as an example for other counties looking to make effective use of their fee-in-lieu funds,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “It truly creates a win-win-win. Landowners are compensated for conserving their property, the County and its residents reap the ecological and economic benefits of conserving forested land, and our environment is improved.”
The Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program provides landowners with incentives to place conservation easements, voluntary legal agreements that limit uses of land to protect its conservation value, on forested properties or properties appropriate for tree planting.
The independent nonprofit Scenic Rivers Land Trust (SRLT) will hold many of the easements and assume responsibility for annual monitoring. SRLT has been serving Anne Arundel County for 30 years and, when these new easements are completed, will hold 69 conservation easements in the county for a total of 3,061 acres.
The grant program will reopen to accept applications for a new round of funding in September. Interested individual private or commercial landowners should contact the Chesapeake Bay Trust to discuss potential nonprofit partner organizations.