State Board Approves Lower Shore Land Easements

BERLIN — Hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands and other natural areas in several different tracks across the Lower Shore including Worcester and Wicomico counties were placed in permanent conservation last week.

The Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Martin O’Malley, treasurer Nancy Kopp and comptroller Peter Franchot, last week approved easements on 518 acres of environmentally sensitive land in three counties including Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset. Through the Conservation Resource Enhancement Program (CREP), Maryland property owners put environmentally-sensitive lands in permanent conservation easement while preserving its agricultural and rural legacy.

“I’d like to commend these Maryland landowners for making conservation practices on their property a priority,” said O’Malley. “Together, we can curb runoff, improve our water quality and preserve the legacy of our land in Maryland for generations to come.”

In Worcester County, the Board of Public Works approved the preservation of a CREP easement totaling 29 acres along the Newport Bay watershed. The easement, known as the Collins CREP easement, will permanently protect water quality along 3,600 feet of tributaries to Porter Creek in the Newport Bay watershed.

As part of the transaction, the landowner will be donating a conservation easement on the remaining 13 acres, which will be held by Worcester County and the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The 43-acre property to be permanently protected, including the 29 acres that will remain permanently in native vegetation, is in the Newport Bay watershed, the third-most degraded watershed of Maryland’s five coastal bays between Ocean City and the mainland.

“The conservation easement fulfills the vision for the property that the landowners, Deborah and Grover Collins, have always had in mind — that it be permanent wildlife habitat for personal enjoyment and hunting as well as some farming, and that it will never be developed,” said Worcester County Commission President Bud Church. “Protecting water quality is achieved one project, one property at a time.”

In Wicomico County, the Board of Public Works also approved the preservation of three CREP easements totaling 427 acres including the Bowman, Carmack and Tracey easements.

The Bowman easement will preserve 98 acres of forest and vegetation along the Wetipquin Creek, a tributary of the Nanticoke River. The easement will preserve roughly 80 acres of pine and mixed hardwood along with nearly 19,000 linear feet of buffer along the creek, which will be held by the Lower Shore Land Trust and the DNR.

“The decision to preserve the land was important not only for the conservation values, but for Susan Bowman, the third generation to live on the property,” said Lower Shore Land Trust Executive Director Kate Patton. “The decision was also about leaving a legacy for her family.”

Another tract in Wicomico is the Carmack CREP easement, which will permanently preserve 91 acres of forest, providing riparian buffer and protecting water quality for nearly 14,000 linear feet along the Campbell Branch of the Pocomoke River. It is estimated that four development rights will be extinguished by the easement.

“By protecting the property with a permanent CREP easement, Holly Carmack and her son Michael and his family will be protecting Campbell Branch, an area identified by DNR heritage has having the potential to support rare species,” said Patton.

The Tracey easement will permanently protect water quality through over 52,000 linear feet along Peter’s Creek, Quantico Creek, Dennis Creek and other tributaries and drainage ditches.