FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Board of Public Works today unanimously approved the Maryland Department of Natural Resources acquisition of 1,172 acres in Queen Anne’s County for the development of a new Wildlife Management Area that will provide conservation, habitat and recreation benefits, including birding, hiking, hunting and trapping. The department worked in cooperation with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) on the acquisition. The new area will be managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The acquisition near Church Hill will permanently protect agricultural fields, mature forested uplands, and stream corridors that currently provide excellent water quality protection. The property functions as a headwater catch basin that drains into Brown’s Branch, a tributary of Southeast Creek on the Chester River. “This acquisition is an exciting win for both conservation advocates as well as outdoor enthusiasts,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “This large and incredibly beautiful property on the Upper Eastern Shore will protect ecologically-sensitive habitat while providing the public an excellent location for outdoor recreation, especially hunting or trapping.” The Program Open Space acquisition will protect the uncommonly high diversity of fauna and flora found in the upland areas of the property, which provide essential habitat for migratory songbirds, pollinators and small mammals. “This farm has been one of our highest priorities for conservation for more than two decades,“ ESLC President Rob Etgen said. “It includes a huge area of prime farmland, and the streams are the largest remaining chunk of unprotected habitat for several endangered wildlife species. I am incredibly excited about this farm and grateful to the Hogan Administration for their support and stewardship.”
On Friday, July 27th The Star Democrat published an article on its front page about ESLC's most ambitious initiative in its 28-year existence, currently referred to as Delmarva Oasis. The initiative, which seeks to include the support and partnership of multiple conservation-based organizations and the local governments of three states, is a beginning of a discussion about the end game for conservation. In other words, what habitat, food production and public access lands must we absolutely protect to sustain the core life functions of Delmarva - permanently, and can this region serve as a model for long term sustainability in other areas. According to such lead experts as renowned biologist and author, E. O. Wilson, the answer in large part lies in landscape-level land conservation. More conservation is needed, faster than before, and at scales unprecedented. Wilson proposes the idea in his 2016 book, Half Earth – Our Planet's Fight for Life. Research shows that if we conserve half the land and sea globally, the bulk of biodiversity will be protected from extinction. More specifically, 50% conserved equals 85% of species entering the safe zone, and 85% of species saved equals a planet stabilized enough for humans to continue to exist. “As a community here on the Eastern Shore, we have worked hard to protect the lands we love (about 29 percent protected on the Shore),” said ESLC President Rob Etgen. “With a new Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the horizon and major road improvements at the northern and southern end of Delmarva, we are concerned about a return to the sprawl pressures of the past. “We feel we must ramp up our land protection efforts, and we must take a more holistic regional approach if we are to keep the farms and forests and wildlife that make this region the wonderful place we know and love.” Why Delmarva? A flight
As we were walking through a patch of young forest on a deer trail filled with periodic spasms of multiflora rose sticker bushes and biting June flies, the “at risk” teenage students from Kent County High School, voiced their displeasure with screams and groans of “You can’t do this to us,” and “This is boring!” Still we, the teacher and myself, continued walking, issuing words of encouragement and adding things like, “This is what it may have been like before the first humans walked this land, when there were still mastodons and caribou and bears, long before the Chesapeake Bay was formed,” and “You’re walking a trail like the ones the first Americans traveled, following their food source into this untouched wilderness.” Then, as we approached the older forest of towering oaks and beech trees, with a forest floor shaded out by the thick canopy of leaves, thus mostly cleared of obstacles, you could feel an almost imperceptible modicum of attention from the students. The demands of a confined classroom day after day, often cause attention fatigue in students. This symptom is the result of a setting nearly vacant of natural stimuli and students’ individual insecurities in the classroom. A teacher’s often futile attempts at, “let me have your attention,” voiced repeatedly during the school day are replaced at SEEC (Sassafras Environmental Education Center) by the ancient rhythms of man’s evolving relationship with the wilderness. At last we reach our destination. A beaver dam. I step down the slope to stand next to the lodge built into the bank at the edge of the beaver pond. Ready to explain the ecosystem created by the beaver family, I suddenly see something move out of the corner of my eye at the top of the lodge. One of my unvoiced fears is about to be
The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) has worked since 1990 to preserve and sustain the communities of the Eastern Shore, and the lands and waters that connect them. Toward this mission, we have helped protect over 57,000 acres of prime agricultural and natural lands, which in partnership with other conservation efforts means nearly a quarter of our rural lands are protected. More recently, ESLC launched a program called the Center for Towns that endeavors to provide support and actions that help advance our region’s small towns as strong, vibrant, and well-defined places. From this lens of growing strong small towns, ESLC views the development of the Carter Farm as one of the most important opportunities that exists for growing a vibrant Centreville. The Carter Farm is an approximately 72 acre site comprised of two parcels in Centreville, Maryland. The properties, currently zoned for residential development with an approved 138 unit subdivision, include a mix of open field and forested land in the Critical Area. After nearly two decades of interest, ESLC has secured a six-month option to purchase the properties. Our goal during the next six-months is to allow for a community visioning and transparent public process, creation of a set of criteria and performance standards for future development, and development of a master plan that incorporates protection of natural features while supporting development that is consistent with the scale, pace and character of Centreville. In addition to public input, we will work with renowned design and development professionals, to generate ideas and innovations that can help make this project design a valuable asset for the Centreville community. While we are working towards a more determinant vision, we will be considering long-term impacts for Centreville, connection and value to the full community, connectivity and transportation, environmental protection, and public access. Preliminary ideas include leveraging
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