Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

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

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ESLC Heads to 2016 Legislative Session

Along with colder temperatures and the fade of holiday lights, every January brings a new legislative session in Annapolis. State employees, politicians, lobbyists, advocates, and policy staff from groups across Maryland converge in an effort to advance the issues and beliefs they believe to be the most pressing. ESLC’s Policy Manger Josh Hastings and Program Assistant Rachel Roman were there when the Maryland General Assembly convened on January 13th and have since been active, traversing across the Bay Bridge for the meetings that apply to our mission. Consistent with the overall purpose of land conservation, ESLC works within the following policy and advocacy parameters: Support water and land use policies that encourage stronger rural communities, protect rural landscapes, and increase public access. Additionally, ESLC promotes policies that lead towards a cleaner Chesapeake Bay and that build resilience towards and support adaption to the effects of climate change on the Eastern Shore landscape. Support economic development efforts for the Eastern Shore that strengthen the agricultural, forestry, and fishing industries, and that direct and deepen investment in small towns. ESLC supports residential and commercial development focused in towns and infrastructure to support sustainable growth. Support transportation policies that result in the most sustainable land use patterns for the Eastern Shore. Promote policies that make travel safer and easier and that emphasize multimodal options. Support energy policies that promote long-term, locally generated, renewable energy that adds to the rural, independent character of the Eastern Shore and that has the smallest impact upon the landscape. Governor Hogan submitted his budget on January 20th, and since that time ESLC has had time to analyze and react accordingly. While the good news is that $20 million more dollars are allocated towards land protection measures than in last year’s budget, the proposal still takes approximately $43 million from Program Open Space – Maryland’s

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LTE Regarding Talbot Comprehensive Plan

December 17, 2015 Letter to the Editor Comprehensive plans are extraordinarily important documents that can have great influence as to how an area changes. Talbot County is a truly special place that deserves the best possible update to its comprehensive plan; one that lays out clear growth strategies, recognizes the unique quality of life contained here, and inspires a new generation of residents to thrive. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) supports growth that adds vibrancy to our towns and villages, while preserving our rural landscapes. After spending 25 years headquartered in Queen Anne’s County, ESLC recently relocated to Easton and opened the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. This $7.6 million dollar historic rehabilitation project is not just a beautiful non-profit campus bringing dozens of full-time jobs to Talbot County; it is the type of positive growth that previous comprehensive plans have stated as goals to strive for. Talbot County does not deserve a comprehensive plan that is unclear, inconsistent, and leaves important decisions about growth to be made without clearer parameters or definitions. Concepts like “workforce housing” are great, as long as the “work” is near the housing and the infrastructure supports it. Before a final comprehensive plan adoption takes place, citizens should feel comfortable knowing they have a plan that takes their input into consideration and provides them with clarity in regards to growth-area specifics, sewer extension, quality of life issues, and traffic and safety concerns. The plan should reflect the integrity of previous plans while continuing to promote the qualities that have made Talbot County the beautiful and prosperous place it is today.   Josh Hastings, Policy Manager Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

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Maintenance of Grass Buffers

Though I am now the Land Protection Specialist at Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, in a former life, I was a wildlife research technician and field crew leader for many bird related field studies and as fate would have it, many of those studies were on restored grasslands that were enrolled in Federal conservation programs such as CRP and CREP. During my time studying these grasslands, I noticed, with but few exceptions, that these grasslands were all mowed on or shortly after August 15th of each year. When considering the rules of these programs, this practice, by and large, is in keeping with the rules of the programs. However, when looking at the practice from a wildlife standpoint, the reasoning behind the early mowing is not particularly sound. In many areas of Maryland, grasslands are not the historic land cover, therefore it takes a certain amount of management to keep the areas meadow. The Federal program in general and the maintenance recommendations in MD specifically require that, once established, these areas must remain in herbaceous cover (grass and forbs) for the entire length of the contract (typically either 10 or 15 years). Prescribed fire, mowing and strip disking are a few of the recommended management techniques that are necessary to maintain these meadows as grasslands. There is no avoiding this reality. As well the programs require that noxious weeds be controlled by approved mechanical and/or chemical methods. Though the noxious weed treatments can largely be done at any time of the year, the general maintenance of the grasslands, including mowing and prescribed burns, are restricted to the non-nesting season for grassland and scrub-shrub bird species between August 15th and April 15th each year. This 8 month window is a fairly generous time-frame for management, but it only protects nesting birds from being

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Chestertown Farm preserved forever

Ed and Marian Fry and their son Matt, and his wife Meg, are again expanding operations on their dairy farm, 54 years after Ed’s father first established the farm in Kent County. The expansion is made possible with an easement by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Maryland Environmental Trust. Putting land under easement fulfilled a couple objectives for the family, said Matt. The farming business and the land were owned by different entities. A corporation owns the business, and a limited partnership consisting of extended family members not involved in the business owned the land. Selling a scenic conservation easement on the farm allowed Matt and Meg buy the land. It also helped meet the vision his grandfather would have laid out for the land – that it stay a working farm. In the 1960s, Matt’s grandfather, Ed’s father, moved away from his dairy farm in Montgomery County and started his farm in Kent County. Montgomery County was growing, and he knew he would not be able to farm the way he wanted to for very long. The sale was satisfying for extended family members, as well. Although they did not want to encumber the farm to pay for major building improvements for the farming operation, they did want farming to continue on the land in the manner their grandfather intended. The easement allowed them to get their value from the property and see the farm remain profitable. “This is what we call the home farm here,” Marian said of the dairy and organic grain operation outside of Chestertown. Matt and Meg, both Virginia Tech graduates, settled in Kent County to farm. Matt has been farming with his parents since 2007. He now manages the dairy herd and also participates in management decisions for the larger farm. The Frys recently expanded the dairy herd. Now, 470 cows are milked

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