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Governor Ehrlich Announces $7.25 million in Rural Legacy Grant Agreements
Highlights Green Infrastructure Criteria Used to Strategically Conserve Land
ANNAPOLIS – Demonstrating his commitment to guiding environmental policy based on sound science as well as fiscal responsibility, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., today announced $7.25 million in grant agreements for 16 rural legacy areas throughout the state.
This year’s grant agreements were the first to be evaluated using the Governor’s New Criteria for Land Conservation, which calls for land to be strategically identified and prioritized for purchase based on the evaluation of the property’s ecological value. Although the Board of Public Works approved these grants in June 2004, the grant agreements were not signed until yesterday, pending a funding evaluation process.
“Using this new criteria focuses our land preservation towards the most ecologically sensitive land in a fiscally sound way,” said Governor Ehrlich. “This is a perfect example of using qualitative, scientific data to help the state and our local partners strategically preserve the properties that maximize the benefit to Maryland’s environment. Restoring the Chesapeake Bay will take an integrated approach with cooperation, commitment and a passionate desire to do the right thing from local governments; the strength of the Rural Legacy program is that it is all three of those. I am excited to support it today.”
Governor Ehrlich also announced today $14.9 million in Rural Legacy funding for fiscal year 2006 to continue land preservation.
Since 1998, the Rural Legacy Program designates Rural Legacy Areas and awards local governments and private lands trusts with competitive grant money to conserve land within these areas.
The Rural Legacy Program encourages local governments and private land trusts to identify areas that are rich in natural, forestry and agricultural resources and which are key components of Maryland’s landscape for designation as Rural Legacy Areas. Local government and land trusts competitively apply for funds to conserve resources and protect water quality, mainly through conservation easements purchased from willing landowners in the area.
“Governor Ehrlich’s commitment to preserving land in a way that makes the most sense environmentally and fiscally benefits present and future generations of Marylanders,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary C. Ronald Franks, who is the Chair of the Rural Legacy Board. “The Rural Legacy Board stands squarely behind the Governor in his commitment to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the state’s most strategic resources.” Department of Agriculture Secretary Lewis Riley and Department of Planning Secretary Audrey E. Scott are also on the board.
“I am very pleased with the way the Ehrlich Administration has begun to sharpen its focus upon the environmental needs of our State and especially the Chesapeake Bay,” said Bruce W. Fleming, Chair of the Rural Legacy Program Advisory Committee, who spoke at the event today. “This Administration has proposed a dramatic increase for Rural Legacy in 2006. We understand that these have been difficult budget times for the State, and recently we have taken our fair share of cuts. However we also know that the needs for adequate land preservation in the State ― and the needs for the Bay ― will not be solved by any single program. Whether it is a healthier horse industry in Maryland that reduces the need to sell large farms, or incentives to focus new development on Brownfields or new sewage treatment plants, or the conservation easements we buy in the Rural Legacy Program, these are all the things that need to be accomplished for us to reach our common objective of preserving a great quality of life in Maryland. I personally thank Governor Ehrlich and his Administration for the sensitivity and leadership that they have shown on these issues.”
A complete listing of grantees and award levels follows.
Rural Legacy Area Sponsor County FY 2004 Awarded Lands End Queen Anne's Co QA $900,000 Agricultural Security Corridor Eastern Shore Land Conservancy CA DO CE KE TA $850,000 Little Pipe Creek Carroll Co CR $750,000 Piney Run Land Preservation Trust BA $750,000 Long Green Valley Long Green Valley Conservancy BA $650,000 Calvert Creeks Calvert County CV $600,000 Mid-Maryland Frederick Frederick Co & Mid-Md Land Trust Assoc FR $600,000 Fair Hill Cecil Land Trust CE $450,000 Nanticoke TNC, TCF, Dorchester DO $450,000 Quantico Creek Wicomico County WI $400,000 Gunpowder Gunpowder Valley Conservancy BA $375,000 Lower Deer Creek Harford Co HA $350,000 Bear Creek Garrett County GA $300,000 Mid-Maryland Washington Washington Co WA $300,000 Zekiah Watershed Charles Co CH $202,219 Manor The Manor Conservancy BA, HA $100,000
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