Eastern Shore Land Conservancy


Land Conservation

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

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eastern shore maryland farmland conservation


Land Protection for All

The culture and history of the Eastern Shore is rooted in its agricultural and natural resource identity. History shows that farming, hunting, fishing, and trapping have been vital to the community for as long as people have inhabited this land. Recognizing that history and protecting it from change are the core of why land conservation programs exist and why millions of federal, state, and local dollars are invested to conserve what makes this region unique.

ESLC is proud to be a part of this important work and to continue to help shepherd those funds into this community. However, our organization recognizes that the history of the Eastern Shore region makes land preservation a relatively inequitable conversation, with the majority of those funds being invested into protection of lands that have been in white landownership for many generations. ESLC cannot change the landscape in which we operate, but we are supportive of ensuring that as many of the following benefits as possible reach the full diversity of our community.

Historic Preservation

One of the focuses of conservation easements is the preservation of historic and cultural resources. Over the years, ESLC has been fortunate to protect multiple historical sites, especially those related to the history of Frederick Douglass. Both his birthplace and where he grew up as a young enslaved person are farms protected through ESLC-held conservation easements. Several easements are also held near Poplar Neck in Caroline County, including a probable landing site on the Choptank River for enslaved people fleeing with Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad.

Passive Benefits

All conservation easements are required to provide public benefits, many of which are passive in nature. Scenic value, water quality improvements, protective agriculture, and greater biodiversity are benefits that ultimately serve all in the community, even if the direct benefits are largely felt on privately-held lands. Overall, the general health of the community is enhanced by the presence of nature, fresh food, and beauty from the protected spaces that surround it.

Public Access

ESLC’s land protection tools go outside the scope of conservation easements. ESLC works with state and local governments to acquire land needed to develop new parks and other public access opportunities. Some great examples in recent years include ESLC’s work with the Department of Natural Resources on establishing the Brown’s Branch Wildlife Management Area in Queen Anne’s County and the Bohemia River State Park in Cecil County. This work has developed even further, with ESLC leading conversations on local trail development to connect these areas and build out a trail network for the entire Eastern Shore. Creating access to nature, open space, and waterways is an important aspect of ESLC’s work that connects us to a more diverse audience.

ESLC is dedicated to finding ways to extend the benefits of its work to a larger representation of the Eastern Shore community. We are always listening and would love to hear from all community members on how we can serve everyone who calls this place home.

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