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Conservation groups work with farmers to conserve 1,435 acre near Little Blackwater River

Voluntary easement to protect large forest and farmland

CAMBRIDGE  – The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, have worked with the owners of Good Luck Farm to conserve 1,435 acres of forest and agricultural land next to Little Blackwater River, near Cambridge in Dorchester County just north of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

The owners of Good Luck Farm have agreed to place a conservation easement over the property, which ensures the long-term conservation of forests and wetlands on the property. These forests and wetlands provide a natural buffer system that helps protect water quality on the Little Blackwater River, a tributary to the Nanticoke River and the Chesapeake Bay. The property also provides habitat for a variety of plant and wildlife species, including the federally endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel and migratory songbirds and raptors. The easement also preserves a working farm that contributions the local agricultural economy.

“Protecting our family farm gives us the security of knowing that this land we love so much will not be changed in any way,” said co-owner Flora Knauer, who along with her two sisters Sue Saathoff and Frances Saathoff put the farm in land protection. “Why wouldn’t someone want to do that?”

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement that limits certain development on a piece of property now and in the future, while protecting the property’s ecological or agricultural values. The Good Luck Farm easement, which will be monitored annually by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, allows for continued agricultural use of the property and timber management with an approved forested managed plan. The easement also restricts future commercial, industrial and intense residential development of the property.

“This family is the epitome of why we want to maintain our Eastern Shore heritage for future generations,” said Meredith Lathbury, ESLC’s Director of Land Conservation. “Their dedication to the land that they grew up on is a true gift to the community.”

The Nature Conservancy commended the landowners for taking proactive steps to protect land on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“Every day more than 100 acres of farms, forests and natural areas are lost to inappropriate development in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Nat Williams, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Maryland/DC. “More than ever, the voluntary actions of private landowners are essential to the long-term survival of our natural and rural lands and the way of life they support. By protecting the ecological, scenic, and natural resources on their land, the owners of Good Luck Farms have received tangible benefits and leave a legacy for future generations.”

The easement was purchased using funds provided by The Nature Conservancy and The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, who will be partially reimbursed with grant funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and matching funds from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“I am delighted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will ultimately play a role in this successful partnership among public and private organizations,” said Wendi Weber, deputy regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The conservation community has worked together and pooled resources to protect these important natural resources for wildlife and the enjoyment of future generations of Americans.”

CAPTION: Three sisters, who inherited their family farm known as Good Luck Farm, have protected the property for future generations with the bargain sale of a conservation easement. Top Row:  Jim Saathoff, Bill Saathoff, Fred Knauer. Bottom Row:  Sue Saathoff, Frances Saathoff, and Flora Knauer

ESLC is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of farmland and habitat on the Eastern Shore. Funded by member contributions, ESLC helps landowners to discover, evaluate and implement any of the voluntary land preservation options available.  Since its inception in 1990, ESLC has helped landowners to protect more than 42,000 acres of farmland and important habitat on 214 Eastern Shore properties.Visit eslc.org for more information.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

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