Leonardtown, Maryland – It’s been a good summer for land preservation in Southern Maryland. St. Mary’s County-based Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust closed on its four newest easements, adding more than 276 acres to its current total of 5,200 acres.

PTLT marked the first of these transactions June 9 when it closed two easements on farms (160 acres) on Leachburg Road in Dameron belonging to Raymond, Charlotte, James, and Wanda Norris. The Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Boardserved as PTLT’s contractor in completing the acquisition. Funding for the acquisition of development rights to the Norris farms came from the U.S. Navy’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI), Maryland Department of Natural Resources (through its Rural Legacy Program), and St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development.

PTLT closed on its third easement July 10 through the acquisition of development rights for land belonging to Mark and Valerie Buckner. The Buckners purchased the 44.23-acre property adjoining their home so they could walk in the woods, enjoy nature, and hunt the grounds. When they heard about the Rural Legacy Program opportunity, the Buckners contacted PTLT to sell an easement on their property. Their property occupies a large patch of contiguous forests which serve as habitat for interior dwelling bird species as well as mammals, reptiles and amphibians. PTLT was able to place an easement on the property by working with St. Mary’s economic development department, DNR’s Rural Legacy Program, and the Navy’s REPI program. The easement is co-held by the Navy and DNR with PTLT taking the lead on annual monitoring and landowner communications. Lastly, PTLT closed August 6 on an easement on a 65.74-acre waterfront farm property in Dameron off of St. Jerome’s Neck Rd. With almost 50 of its acres situated in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, this farm has more than one mile of shoreline and wetland habitat in creek and Bay Shore edges. Most of the farm is in active cultivation with rotational crops. Its owner for the last 20 years, Bruce Wilson, a professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, keeps horses for trail riding on his and friends’ properties. Maryland, keeps horses for trail riding on his and friends’ properties. Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust was able to place an easement on the property through working with St. Mary’s County, Maryland’s DNR, and the U.S. Navy. The easement is coheld by the Navy and DNR with PTLT taking the lead on annual monitoring and landowner communications. “We greatly appreciate the vision and cooperation of the Norris, Buckner, and Wilson families in helping assure a pristine landscape for current and future generations of St.

Mary’s residents,” says PTLT Executive Director Andrew Garte. “These acquisitions mark a major step forward in our organization’s accomplishments. They also demonstrate the good things that happen when private citizens, government, and conservation organizations come together for a common goal. PTLT thanks the Navy, Maryland, and St. Mary’s County for their help in this significant accomplishment.”

The easement acquisitions followed the general practices of land trusts throughout the United States and many other countries. Conservation easements are a legally binding agreements that protect land by limiting future development that would adversely affect its conservation value, such as construction and subdivision. Owners retain the land while relinquishing specific development rights to make changes to it. The property may be transferred and sold freely, but subsequent owners are bound by the easement restrictions.

Easements can be crafted to meet the mutual objectives of the landowner and the land trust.

Land trusts are also actively engaged in promoting conservation, educating the community, and helping landowners to achieve conservation objectives such as creating wildlife habitat, protecting waterways, or improving woodlands.

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PTLT’s mission is to sustain the region’s biodiversity and water resources through a network of protected landscapes. PTLT acquires land and conservation easements by purchase or donation. For more information, visit www.Patuxent-Tidewater.org.

The Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program serves as a tool for the Department of Defense to sustain the nation’s military mission through cooperative land-use planning and integrated land protection with a variety of partners around installations and ranges. For more information, visit www.repi.mil.

Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program was enacted by the General Assembly in 1997 to preserve valuable farmland, forests, and natural areas. For more information, visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/land/Pages/RuralLegacy/home.aspx