Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a private, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of farmland and habitat on the Eastern Shore, proudly announces that Browning Creek Farm in southern Cecil County, Maryland has been protected forever from development. A conservation easement was purchased on the 355-acre farm using federal transportation funds earmarked for the protection of the view along Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway. Former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest was instrumental in getting these funds earmarked for Chesapeake Country. ESLC, the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties along with the State Highway Administration have since been working cooperatively to protect key properties along the Byway. Browning Creek Farm is the first property to be protected using this funding.
Situated north of Cecilton and south of the Bohemia River on Route 213, Browning Creek Farm is located across the road from a block of approximately 1,600 acres of protected land, including Anchorage Farm, which ESLC helped protect in 2001. Known locally as “Needmore” and the “Pumpkin Shell,” Browning Creek Farm consists of approximately 220 acres of tillable ground, 65 acres of grassland, and 60 acres of forest and has about 3,800 feet of frontage along the Chesapeake Country.
The quest to protect Browning Creek Farm began in 2006 after the property received approval for 47 residential lots, which led to ESLC’s involvement. The farm was permanently protected earlier this month thanks to widespread community support and the willingness of the landowners, brothers Felix and Mark Rutkoske, to sell a conservation easement at below appraised value and to allow ESLC time to find a conservation buyer for the farm – someone to buy it after the easement was purchased. Fortunately, local farmers and conservationists Jack and Charlotte Loller, stepped up to purchase the farm so that their grandson Danny could begin a career in farming. The story of the Loller’s relationship with the farm will span several generations when it is all said and done – Jack’s parents lived on the farm at one time, too.
“It is a shame that they are not around to see us get this place but we are excited for (our grandson) and so glad to get back here,” said Charlotte Loller.
The Lollers intend to farm the property – so buying it subject to the conservation easement worked out well because they didn’t have to pay for the development value of the property.
“It is nice to know that there won’t be any new houses put up – we don’t like to see farmland developed,” said Charlotte. The Lollers own three other farms in Cecil County and have participated in agricultural preservation for all of them.
“Everything we own is in some kind of farm preservation program,” she said.
While it took a long time to find the right match for the farm, ESLC is proud of the efforts its staff and the community made to get to this point.
“This is such an important win for the community and we are really grateful that the Lollers came forward to purchase this place so it will remain in active farming,” said Sandra Edwards, ESLC’s Land Protection Specialist, who has worked on the project since the start. “It has been a labor of love with lots of ups and downs to be sure, but in the end, the preservation of such a vital piece of Cecil County’s and Chesapeake Country’s rural character makes it all totally worthwhile. The fact that a young farmer will be beginning his farming career on this farm makes this story even more special.”