Conservation Easements Inked For Worcester Properties

WEST OCEAN CITY — The state’s Board of Public Works last week approved the acquisition of two significant environmentally sensitive tracts along the coastal bays in Worcester, adding to an ever-growing list of perpetual conservation easements in the county.

The three-member Board of Public Works last week approved the expenditure of over $1.5 million for conservation easement acquisitions for the two large tracts in the coastal bays watershed. The conservation easements, acquired from property owners Ocean Investments Inc., will be paid for with a combination of state and federal funding, the former coming from the state’s Program Open Space and the latter coming from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Both are really nice pieces of property and will connect with some of the other significant tracts in the watershed acquired in recent years with state and federal funding,” said Maryland Coastal Bays Executive Director Dave Wilson this week. “Both are highly disturbed and in great need for some wetlands restoration.”

The first tract approved for acquisition by the BPW last week includes 225 acres off Cropper Island Rd. with over one mile of frontage on Newport Bay across from Assateague Island. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the property because of its value as an ideal breeding and nesting habitat for bald eagles and other bird species.

The tract came with a price tag of around $865,000, of which the BPW approved an expenditure of $383,000 from Program Open Space to go along with a commitment of $482,000-plus from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ocean Investments Inc. voluntarily agreed to sell the property at 47 percent below appraised value.

The second property conserved in perpetual easement last week by the BPW is a 148-acre tract on the west side of Route 611 with frontage on Trappe Creek, situated near Assateague State Park. Again, the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered on the acquisition because of its value as an important breeding and nesting habitat for bald eagles and other species.

Unlike the first tract, the property owner did retain development rights on two parcels, but the Trappe Creek acquisition is considered a great opportunity because of its local and environmental value. The price tag for the Trappe Creek parcel came in at around $687,000, of which the state’s share is $304,000 and the federal share is $383,000. The property owner sold the easement at 29 percent of its appraised value.

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