Worcester Easement First of its Kind in MD

Worcester County, MD, 11/22/2005: Worcester County in cooperation with the nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program announced today the protection of the Golden Quarter Farm, a 156-acre tract of land located at Ayers Creek in Berlin in the Holly Grove Swamp conservation area. The property, which includes about one mile of shoreline along Ayres Creek, will be protected in perpetuity through a conservation easement.

The $1 million easement acquisition is the first of its kind in Maryland and only the second in the nation. The easement was purchased with funds of $641,647 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) along with county matching funds of $358,353.

While the property will remain in private ownership, the easement will held by Worcester County for management as a wildlife habitat for migrating songbirds and many species of reptiles and amphibians. The acquisition of this easement will not only protect this property from any danger of development to one of the last large contiguous areas of wooded land left on the mainland adjacent to Ocean City, it will also help to preserve water quality and the area’s scenic beauty.

“Natural areas are disappearing quickly due to development along coastal Maryland,” said Denise Schlener, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Chesapeake & Central Appalachians Field Office. “This is a critical move, in terms of both habitat preservation and water quality protection.”

The land has traditionally been used for farming or timbering, and was cleared for agricultural use years ago. However, the forestlands are able to serve as a buffer to development and filter runoff that drains into the coastal bays. Therefore, conservation of this land is critical for the continued protection of water quality. With the help of the current landowner, Sandra Frazier, 81 acres of this site have already been restored with native plant and tree species. As a result, native wildlife, such as fox, deer, turkey, ducks, herons, and even bald eagle are again flourishing on the property.

The CELCP was established in 2001 to assure the protection of coastal and estuarine lands with significant conservation, recreation, ecological, cultural, or aesthetic value. The federal funding for this purchase was secured by U.S. Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, ranking democrat on the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for CELCP, and U.S. Congressman Wayne Gilchrest.

“Maryland’s Coastal Bays are the lifeblood of the area’s ecology, economy and quality of life,” said Senator Sarbanes. “I’m proud to have played a role in securing the federal funds necessary to permanently protect this property from development.”

“This is a great example of all levels of government and the private sector working together to help Worcester County retain some of its pristine natural areas that are so critical to wildlife, water quality and a healthy ecosystem,” said Congressman Gilchrest. “Sandra Frazier has done an amazing job of preserving so much natural beauty and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her vision and her dedication to our environment.”

“I’m sure that Worcester County and the Frazier family will do a fine job of preserving this site as wildlife habitat and open space for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Eldon Hout, Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management, which administers the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“Protecting this land is about protecting wildlife and water quality,” said Coastal Bays Program Director Dave Blazer. “We worked so hard to help make this happen and we feel proud today to see this beautiful farm protected forever.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 7,000 acres in Maryland.