Elkton, Maryland — Cecil Land Trust (CLT), Cecil County’s land conservation organization working to protect farms, forests and water resources, was awarded state land conservation funds yesterday. During its October 4 meeting at the State House, the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) voted to approve Rural Legacy Program Grants for Fiscal Year 2018, including an award of $1,803,000 toward the purchase of conservation easements on farms within the Fair Hill Rural Legacy Area (RLA), which CLT sponsors.
CLT’s President, Bill Kilby, Executive Director Beth Burnam and Board Members Tom Hannum and Sally Warner were honored to attend the October 4 meeting and show their appreciation for the grant award and support for Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program. The BPW consists of the governor, the comptroller, and the treasurer, and oversees capital appropriations and state public works projects. In voting to approve the award of Rural Legacy funding to CLT, the BPW affirmed the importance of supporting Cecil County’s local resource-based economy, including equestrian activities.
“We are thrilled to be among the organizations recognized with an award of Rural Legacy funding,” remarked Mr. Kilby. “We are thankful for Governor Hogan’s support of land preservation funding generally, and for the State’s recognition of the importance of Cecil County’s Fair Hill RLA.”
Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program was established in 1997 as one of the State’s nationally-recognized Smart Growth programs, which take an incentive-based approach to achieving the twin goals of encouraging vibrant communities and discouraging sprawl development. Rural Legacy is the premier Smart Growth initiative aimed at affirmatively protecting important rural and natural areas in Maryland from sprawl development. As of June 2017, Rural Legacy had permanently protected 91,397 acres of land. State funds are awarded through a competitive process to local organizations that sponsor defined Rural Legacy Areas.
“Cecil Land Trust sincerely appreciates the support of the staff at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources,” said Board Member Jeremy Rothwell. “With the potential assistance of federal Agricultural Land Easement funds, CLT will be able to protect approximately 1,000 acres of land within the Fair Hill RLA in the coming year.” CLT has already protected more than 1,000 acres of farms and forests within the Fair Hill Rural Legacy Area by purchasing conservation easements with Rural Legacy Program funds, sometimes in combination with federal funds.
“We appreciate the State’s confidence in CLT and support for conserving land within the Fair Hill RLA,” affirmed Executive Director Beth Burnam. “These beautiful farms and forests at the top of the Bay connect Cecil County’s people to a rich history, provide local food and fiber, and enable a vibrant agricultural economy as well as vital access to open space. We are grateful to be a part of Maryland’s Rural Legacy.”