Local Developer’s Donation Launches New Land Fund

WEST OCEAN CITY – A local developer’s donation of land will allow the Lower Shore Land Trust to launch a new conservation fund.

In 2019, Blue Water Development owner Jack Burbage gifted a stretch of forested buffer to the north of the Ocean City Airport to the Lower Shore Land Trust. And this week, the organization’s leaders announced the recent sale of that land will allow for the creation of the Jack Burbage Conservation Land Fund.

“This is a big deal for our organization,” said Kate Patton, Lower Shore Land Trust’s executive director. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with Mr. Burbage and recognize his gift.”

The gift of commercial real estate was the first of its kind for the Lower Shore Land Trust. According to Hugh Cropper, chairman of the Board of Directors, it prompted the organization to review gift policies and asset management before accepting the donation.


Jack Burbage

The organization also spent time waiting for the right conservation-minded buyer to come along, according to Treasurer Suzy Taylor. So officials say it came as a pleasant surprise when the Town of Ocean City decided to purchase the property.

“The settlement happened in late January …,” Patton said. “That means it’s going to stay relatively undeveloped and provide a buffer for the airport.”

But officials say the accomplishments don’t stop there. Proceeds from the sale of the property will allow the Lower Shore Land Trust to address stringent accreditation goals for stewardship of the organization’s land portfolio.

“Because we have a lot of properties under easements – about 25,000 acres, working with over 130 landowners – we need to be able to provide ongoing stewardship for those easements …,” Patton explained. “In order to meet accreditation standards, we have to maintain those assets to meet those requirements.”

The sale of the land will also allow the nonprofit to launch the Jack Burbage Conservation Land Fund, which will allow the organization to seize opportunities to protect vulnerable conservation lands throughout the Lower Shore.

“This is the type of gift we dream of, and now we can set our sights on utilizing the new Jack Burbage Conservation Land Fund to expand our land preservation programs,” Patton said.

In an interview this week, Burbage said he was happy to support the Lower Shore Land Trust in its conservation efforts.

“The Land Trust is a very worthy cause. They are trying to support a lot of environmental programs and they need the money to do it …,” he said. “It was a way to help them out.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.