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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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ESLC and Queen Anne’s County Partner to Protect 486 Acres of farmland

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) recently announced the permanent protection of 486 acres of farm, forest, and marshland in Queen Anne’s County with the purchase of conservation easements on Brown’s Branch Farm and Home Farm.

Brown’s Branch Farm is located on the northwest side of Church Hill and has a half of a mile of frontage along Route 213, which is the main spine of Chesapeake Country national scenic byway. The 218-acre farm consists of approximately 134 acres of tillable ground, 36 acres of wetlands, 43 forested acres, and a 5-acre farmstead area. The conservation easement permanently eliminates the possibility of 24 building lots on this productive farm.

The easement will provide a forested stream buffer to protect the water quality of the adjoining Brown’s Branch stream, which is home to an endangered freshwater mussel. Funding for this project came from a mutli-million dollar allocation from a federal transportation bill spearheaded by former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest for ESLC to protect the rural landscape along the Chesapeake Country byway corridor. Maryland State Highway Administration administers the federal funds and will reimburse Queen Anne’s County for settlement of both easements. The landowner sold the conservation easement for 20 percent less than the appraised value, which was necessary to complete the easement.

“This was a great opportunity for us to partner with Queen Anne’s County to expand a protected greenbelt around Church Hill and ensure that important scenic areas along Chesapeake Country remain as open space for the continued enjoyment of byway travelers.,” said Sandra Edwards, ESLC’s Land Protection Specialist. “We are very grateful to both the landowner and Queen Anne’s County for making this happen.”

The second protected property – Home Farm – is located near Kingstown in Queen Anne’s County. The farm consists of 267 acres of which 238 acres are considered prime farmland. Situated next to the Foreman Branch Rural Legacy Area, Home Farm is now part of a 6,300+ acre block of protected land. Protection of Home Farm was completed through a combination of funds from Queen Anne’s County’s new Critical Farm Program and the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program. The landowner sold the conservation easement for 15 percent below the appraised value which made the preservation of the farm possible.

“If the property was developed, there could have been over 100 houses on Home Farm – so the preservation result is clearly the best outcome we could have hoped for.” said Edwards. “It would not have happened without the cooperation of everyone involved”

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Paul Gunther also praised the group preservation effort.

 “We are so pleased to be part of this collaborative effort to protect these valuable farms,” said Gunther on behalf of the five member Board of Commissioners. “These types of successful projects illustrate just how government agencies and private organizations can work together to preserve land along sensitive areas. We look forward to even more public and private ventures as budgets remain tight over the next few years.”

 ESLC co-holds both easements with the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), a statewide land trust. Over the past 20 years, ESLC and MET have partnered to protect thousands of acres across the Eastern Shore.

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