SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s two Rural Legacy Areas could expand by as much as 1,400 acres if the Maryland Rural Legacy Program funds the county’s two grant requests in full.
The two Rural Legacy Areas in Worcester County hope to receive a total of $2.8 million in state funding to purchase conservation easements in the southern part of the county.
The County Commissioners designated the $1 million funding request for the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area on Chincoteague Bay first priority because there are three large properties offering easements in that location.
In the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Area, which crosses the border between Worcester and Somerset counties, the counties are hoping for $1.8 million in funding to purchase conservation easements on properties totaling 1,064 acres.
The Maryland Rural Legacy Program requires jurisdictions with more than one Rural Legacy grant request to choose which area should have top priority for that year’s funding.
“This year we have a little bit more interest on the coastal bays side,” said Ed Tudor, director of the county’s development review and permitting department.
The three properties in the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area offering conservation easements this year consist of large waterfront sites and water view parcels.
If conservation easements are purchased on these parcels, the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area boundary will be expanded by another 500 acres. These properties are immediately adjacent to the current boundary line of the Coastal Bays Rural Legacy Area.
The county will not offer matching funds this year to the Rural Legacy effort. The state does not require matching funds from county governments.
However, Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FFRPP) money, $960,000, assigned to the Lower Shore Land Trust, will be used to enhance the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy funding.
The FFRPP funding will be used to match Rural Legacy money for a total of seven properties, four in Somerset County and three in Worcester, in the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy area.
Contracts have nearly been finished on three of those properties, with the other four easements currently under negotiation.