800 Acres Protected for Maryland Park

Boyds, Maryland, 3/3/02 — The permanent protection of 800 acres of forest habitat and rural resource lands for the establishment of a new county park in Boyds, Maryland was celebrated today. The Hoyles Mill Conservation Park, the largest single land preservation acquisition in Montgomery county, was protected by a joint effort of the State of Maryland, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Montgomery County government, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Michael D. Rubin. The newly protected property is at the center of a green corridor that stretches between the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, linking more than 5,000 acres of protected land.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land and Washington-area landowner Michael Rubin purchased the land from Bardon, Inc. in December 2001 with the intention of transferring it into public ownership once funds became available. Using $7.2 million in State of Maryland GreenPrint funds, the transaction was completed this week and the property was transferred to the M-NCPPC, which will manage it as the Hoyles Mill Conservation Park.

“Our ability to move quickly to protect permanently the exceptional ecological value of this property, could not have happened without Maryland’s GreenPrint program and the efforts of our partners,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary J. Charles Fox. “This protection afforded to this property will benefit wildlife, water quality, as well as the quality of life for future generations.”

“The community of Boyds has strived to protect this property as public open space for more than 30 years. The partnership that was formed provided the elements necessary to make that happen: the ability to act quickly once the land was available, adequate funds for such a large acquisition, and an agency willing to serve as the steward of the land,” said Debi Osborne, Chesapeake field office director for the Trust for Public Land. TPL has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres across the country including more than 4,300 acres in Maryland, applying its expertise in conservation real estate, negotiation, finance, and law to complete land transactions.

The State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to hold a conservation easement on the land that ensures the protection of the scenic, cultural, rural, woodland and wetland characteristics of the property. M-NCPPC will produce a management plan for the site, after which it is expected to be open to the public for passive recreation such as hiking and horseback riding. A small portion on the northern end of the property has been identified as the future site of the Boyds Local Park in accordance with the Boyds Master Plan, and may be developed with more active recreation facilities.

“Development certainly has its place, but this is not the place for development. Resources such as this, once lost, can never be recovered,” said Michael Rubin. “I am extremely thankful to the State of Maryland, Montgomery County and the Trust for Public Land for their support and help in getting this accomplished.”

Rubin entered into the initial discussions with the landowner, Bardon Inc. and then turned to the Trust for Public Land because of the organization’s expertise in conservation real estate transactions. In conjunction with this acquisition, Rubin also purchased another 900 acres on which he plans, with the help of TPL, to place a conservation easement when future funding becomes available.

Boyds has long been a center of mining activity, and the newly protected land holds significant potential for mineral extraction—long deemed the greatest risk to the agricultural fields, wetlands, wooded stream valleys and mature forests on the property. In recent years, however, a greater threat has cast its shadow on this area—development prominent in other parts of Montgomery County.

Just 25 miles north of Washington DC along the commuter rail line, Boyds faces a critical decision—whether to hold on to its rural character and farming roots or to develop. Over the last two decades, the adjacent community of Germantown has grown by approximately 2,000 households per year.

State Senator Jean Roesser (District 15) presented a Governor’s Citation to the private partners involved in the important conservation accomplishment. “Michael Rubin and the Trust for Public Land have made an enormous contribution to the Montgomery County park system,” said Sen. Roesser. “Mr. Rubin’s vision has resulted in the purchase of a valuable natural resource which preserves equestrian and other low impact activities in Montgomery County.”

Several other state representatives from Montgomery County, including Delegate Jean Cryor (District 15), were also in attendance to present resolutions from the Maryland House and Senate thanking TPL and Rubin for their work to support open space preservation.

Montgomery County government has been very active in protecting agricultural and rural lands. This acquisition protects a large area of rural forestland that buffers the agricultural wedge of the county from more developed areas. “Today, we take another significant step towards realizing our goal of preserving Montgomery County’s rural and agricultural history,” said Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. “This completes the ‘green belt’ of open space west of Germantown that was envisioned in the Germantown Master Plan of 1989 and takes us one step closer to our goal of preserving 90,000 acres in Montgomery County.”

“The Montgomery County Planning Board and the Park and Planning Commission are pleased to have partnered with the State of Maryland, the Trust for Public Land, and Michael Rubin to make the preservation of the Hoyles Mill Diabase possible,” said Arthur Holmes, Jr., chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Board. “This partnership has resulted in the protection of one of the most important natural resources identified in the county’s comprehensive plan for open space protection, the Legacy Open Space Master Plan. We look forward to protecting more critical open spaces in Montgomery County through such partnerships.”

The protection effort also brings Maryland another step closer to its commitment to protect 20% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2010, as set out in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. Keeping Our Commitment: Preserving Land in the Chesapeake Watershed, a historic report by the Trust for Public Land and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, documents the need to protect an additional 1.1 million acres of the bay watershed and calls for $1.8 billion in new local, state and federal funding to meet the Chesapeake 2000 goal.

As with all state programs, funds for land conservation are in currently in jeopardy. On February 28, 2002, thirty-one land trusts presented a pledge to Governor Parris N. Glendening, state legislators and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, committing to increase land protection in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help achieve the Chesapeake 2000 commitment. The land trust community also called on the General Assembly members to do their part by ensuring continued state funding for land preservation initiatives.

Established in 2001, the GreenPrint Program uses state-of-the-art computer mapping techniques to identify the most ecologically important unprotected natural lands in the state. Then, program funds are used to protect these lands and connect them to already protected land through acquisitions or easements in concert with other Smart Growth initiatives.

Today, Maryland has only two million acres of ecologically significant land that has not been impacted by development or otherwise diminished in its natural resource value. Of these two million acres of “green infrastructure,” almost three-quarters remain unprotected.