NeighborSpace awarded $1,000 grant at Maryland Land Conservation Conference

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County received a $1,000 grant on Tuesday that will allow it to implement a new system for prioritizing the acquisition of land.

The nonprofit, which is dedicated to preserving open space in the county's most populated areas, received the Jan Hollman Grant Award at the Maryland Land Conservation Conference in Columbia.

The group will use the grant to pay for a statistical analysis that will weigh the interests of constituents, such as those in community associations and watershed groups, and create a prioritized list of properties for NeighborSpace to look into acquiring.

"The big picture is, most land trusts have to find away to pick the best land given that we all have limited resources," said Barbara Hopkins, the executive director of Neighbor Space.

Hopkins said that while rural areas often have fairly straight-forward priorities, such as the preservation of forest and farmland, considerations become muddled in suburban areas.

"It really boils down to things that fall in three categories: social considerations, economic considerations and environmental considerations," Hopkins said.

NeighborSpace will work with the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to develop a conservation plan never before seen in "inner-ring suburbs," according to a press release from the organization.

Modeled after a program used in rural areas, the plan will take into account a variety of factors in determining how NeighborSpace prioritizes its acquisition of land.

NeighborSpace has 10 properties, totaling 36.4 acres in Baltimore County, the release stated.

Its most recent acquisition is an 11-acre parcel in the Catonsville. Its largest is a 14-acre parcel in White Marsh.

The group also owns Tollgate Wyndam Preserve in Owings Mills, Branchwood Preserve in Pikesville, Hampton Lane pocket park, Greenbrier Memorial Garden and open space on East Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson and Reilman Lane Park in Carney.

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