News from the DNR Office of Communications

Governor O’Malley Announces Opportunity for Streamside Easements

Annapolis, Md. (September 16, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the Board of Public Works approval of a program that will provide funding to acquire permanent conservation easements on streamside forests, natural areas and wetlands that have been restored through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

“Nutrient runoff significantly impacts the health of the Bay and our local waterways, and this program provides the opportunity to target lands located in crucial streamside locations that will reduce this source of pollution,” said Governor O’Malley. “The easements funded through this program are an example of the commitment that State agencies, local governments and citizens are making towards meeting our Bay restoration two-year milestones.”

Through an agreement among the State of Maryland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Commodity Credit Corporation, landowners will now be able to make permanent the conservation practices established through 10-to 15-year federal CREP contracts. These practices reduce sediments and nutrients from runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and enhance wildlife habitats.

Land trusts and local government partners ― in partnership and coordination with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  ―  will facilitate and negotiate the easements prior to submission to the Board of Public Works. Funds for acquiring these easements will be provided by State Program Open Space and will create matching funds for the federal monies dedicated to the overall CREP program.

For Maryland, CREP has a large role in the Bay watershed restoration efforts as it promotes the implementation of agricultural best management practices that effectively reduce sediments and nutrients from runoff in the Chesapeake Bay. The program provides for the establishment of riparian buffers, grass plantings, shrubs, trees and the retirement of highly erodible land to improve and enhance water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by reducing soil runoff, increasing ground water absorption and reducing stream sedimentation and nutrient loading from crop fields into Maryland’s waterways.

Easements may be held by counties, DNR and local land trusts, and easement holders are responsible for monitoring and stewardship of the property. To determine the price of each CREP easement, DNR will use an Easement Valuation System based on the property location, the width of the riparian buffers and the amount of land that will be included in the easement.

The three-member Board of Public Works is comprised of Governor O’Malley (chair), Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. The BPW is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultant contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement actions.

Under the direction of Governor O’Malley, the BayStat team recently finalized a suite of two-year milestones to accelerate Maryland’s actions on-the-ground. The 27 short term goals, which the Governor announced at the regional Chesapeake Executive Council meeting in May, include commitments to doubling cover crops on farmlands, expanding forest buffers and wetlands on public and private lands; retrofitting stormwater management practices on 90,000 acres; upgrading wastewater treatment plants and 3,000 septic systems; and reducing nitrogen pollution from power plants -– all by 2011. Maryland's suite of actions represent a 138% increase in the rate of nitrogen reduction and an over 500% increase in the rate of phosphorus reduction, and put Maryland on a pace to meet Bay Restoration Goals by 2020. To learn more about the Chesapeake Bay two-year milestones, visit www.baystat.maryland.gov/milestones.html.  


   September 16, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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 12 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