New Legacy Area Funds Near

SNOW HILL – Worcester County approved a $100,000
match in funding for the new, joint Dividing Creek Rural Legacy area that spans
the Worcester County and Somerset County border, and will request state funds
to go with that money, although the state has not yet announced a decision on
funding requested last year.

“We’re requesting a $100,000

match,” said Worcester County Comprehensive Planning Director Sandy Coyman. “Worcester County’s

match will be used only for easements in Worcester County.”

County officials have once again
asked for  $2.1 million in state funds to
buy conservation easements in the Dividing Creek rural legacy area, which was
established last winter, in addition to matching dollars from both counties.

The counties requested the same
amount last year, but they do not know how much those awards are. State funds
were budgeted for rural legacy last year.

While neither county knows how
much funding has been or will be awarded, the jurisdictions will take turns
with the funds.

“We’re just going to go back and
forth as long as there’s a land owner ready and able to move forward,” said
planner Katharine Munson.

Plans call for the first
conservation easement to be purchased in Somerset
County, the next in Worcester,
and then back to Somerset
County, and so on.

The funds awarded will not be
split down the middle.

 “We don’t know how much money we’ll get in a
given grant year,” Munson said. “They might only award us $300,000 and if we
split that down the middle neither one of us would be able to do anything with
it. … Our first priority in general are properties on Dividing Creek.”

If there are no property owners
interested or ready to sell an easement on the creek, the two counties and the
Nature Conservancy will look to second tier properties not on the water.

No property owners are yet ready
to go with an easement sale, Munson said. Everything is in preliminary stages.

Landowner interest has been high
since the rural legacy area was created a year ago, Coyman reported.

The Dividing Creek rural legacy
area is the second rural legacy site for Worcester
County, but Somerset County’s
first.

“It’s been a very good
experience,” Munson said. “It’s actually been a great opportunity for the two
counties to converse on conservation issues.”

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