|Press Releases | DNR Press Room | Search DNR | DNR Home|
Governor Ehrlich Announces Purchase of Conservation Easement
1,485-acre Boy Scout Reservation to be Preserved in Perpetuity
ANNAPOLIS - Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. today announced the purchase of a 1,485-acre conservation easement on a parcel of ecologically sensitive land in Dorchester County. The purchase is a joint project with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Del-Mar-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Known as the Henson Scout Reservation, the property is prominently located at the confluence of Marshyhope Creek and the Nanticoke River, south of Galestown. It adjoins lands protected by The Nature Conservancy along its southeastern and southern borders, and is bounded by the Nanticoke River to the south and Marshyhope Creek to the west. It is adjacent to large blocks of lands that are already permanently protected by a variety of public and private organizations, and abuts the 9,000-acre Nanticoke River Rural Legacy Area.
The purchase of this conservation easement will eliminate the threat of high density residential, commercial and industrial development on a property that sits at the center of one of the most biologically diverse areas in the mid-Atlantic region.
“Two of my priorities are fiscal responsibility and guiding environmental policy based on sound science; this easement fulfills both of those,” Governor Ehrlich said. “Fiscal responsibility in state government means utilizing federal and private partnerships to get things done, as the partners in this project did. Additionally, this land was evaluated for preservation for its ecological value based on qualitative, scientific data, and then compared to other properties to determine if it strategically benefited our land preservation goals. I commend DNR and the partners today for making this happen.”
Specifically, among the property’s ecological values are:
- Nearly four miles of shoreline of the Nanticoke River and Marshyhope Creek, a major tributary river system to the Chesapeake Bay;
- A complex of over 600 acres of forested, freshwater tidal and nontidal wetlands of outstanding quality;
- 800 acres of native coastal plain forest;
- Habitat for the federally endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) and two bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus) nests;
- Nine state rare plants;
- A regionally significant savanna-like seasonal pond;
- An ancient sand dune system unique to the Delmarva Peninsula;
- Quality habitat for migratory waterfowl as well as breeding and stopover habitat for neotropical songbirds and raptors; and
- Spawning and nursery areas for economically and ecologically important fisheries including rockfish, white and yellow perch, and herring species;
Funding for the $1.115 million project was contributed by a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ($660,000), DNR’s Program Open Space (POS) ($300,000) and The Nature Conservancy ($155,000). Additionally, The Nature Conservancy contributed all incidental costs for land appraisals, environmental assessment and land surveys.
The property was evaluated for its ecological value using Green Infrastructure criteria, as called for in Governor Ehrlich’s recent directive on Land Preservation. This directive instructs state agencies to focus land conservation programs on the most strategic lands to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries as well as the most significant natural and agricultural resources; apply the best scientific information and technology to identify resource lands that are most important, the potential threats to these lands, and areas in which preservation goals can be maximized; and establish a process for collaboration and coordination among state and local land conservation programs to identify geographic and natural resource areas.
A “Green Infrastructure Project Profile” assessment of the Henson Scout Reservation property prepared by DNR indicates an overall ecological rating for this property as “Excellent,” with a mean ecological score within Green Infrastructure of 93.1 (out of 100). The property is heavily forested with a high quality complex of tidal and nontidal freshwater wetlands. It is nested in an area that has been designated as a priority area under the North American Wetland Management Plan. A hotspot for biodiversity, the Nanticoke's superior wetland and upland communities harbor more than 260 rare plants and animals, 25 of which are globally rare.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov