Harford County will receive just over $1 million through the state's Rural Legacy Program to preserve more land in the Deer Creek Valley.
The grant is one of 17 Rural Legacy Program grants statewide totaling $23 million approved Wednesday by the Maryland Board of Public Works.
The latest funding follows a $1.5 million Rural Legacy Program grant approved last year for Deer Creek Valley preservation, county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said.
Funding from these grants will permanently protect over 6,500 acres of working farms, forests and open space in 18 counties, an announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan's office states. The Board of Public Works is comprised of Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
Properties to be protected include productive farmland, natural habitat, scenic view sheds, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands as well as cultural, historical and natural resources, according to state officials.
Established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large tracts of productive and valuable agricultural and forested lands that contain exceptional features.
The program acts through local government or private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 31 locally-designated rural areas in every county. To date, the program has permanently protected 91,398 acres, the state's news release noted.
Mumby said the county has sought landowners in the Deer Creek Valley who may be interested in participating in the preservation program. Eight made applications this year, she said.
"We are looking for properties to be considered for agricultural preservation, wildlife habitat protection, stream contour protection," she said.
Those who join the program are eligible to receive a payment in exchange for preserving their land in perpetuity.
A local board ranks the applications; however, final determinations of acceptance and payments are still made at the state level through a Rural Legacy Board comprised of the state secretaries of planning, agriculture and natural resources, Mumby said.
This year's eight property owners who have expressed interest in joining the program have about 950 acres among them, she said. With the available funding totaling $1,080,000, "not all will get offers," she said.
The $1.5 million made available last year is to be paid out for two Harford County grain farms totaling 156 acres and a dairy farm consisting of three parcels totaling 167 acres, Mumby said.
The grain farms are still awaiting final state approval, she said, but the dairy farm, which is off Glasgow Road in Forest Hill has been approved, she said. The owners are Bud and Wanda Amos and Julie and Matt Yarrington, she said.
In addition to the Deer Creek Valley funding, the Board of Public Works approved a nearly $2 million grant for the Manor Conservancy to preserve land in the Monkton area along the Harford and Baltimore counties border.
Mumby said she did not have any details on the Manor Conservancy application; however, it had the full support of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.
Also approved was a $1.8 million grant for preservation in the Fair Hill area of northern Cecil County.
"Our administration is committed to land conservation, preservation, and recreation, and I am very pleased to announce these new Rural Legacy Program grants, which will preserve and protect our most pristine agricultural, environmental, and historical areas," Hogan said in a statement. "When I became governor, I promised to restore funding for our world-renowned land programs, like Program Open Space, and we have done just that. We are following through on our commitment, and I thank the Comptroller and the Treasurer for helping us make progress toward our Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals."