Howard gets $1.5 million to buy, protect Patuxent land


A $1.5 million state grant approved Tuesday will be used to buy 250 acres along the upper Patuxent River, sparing the parcel from development, a Howard County official said yesterday.

Exactly which 250 acres will be preserved has not been decided, said William Pickens, agricultural program administrator in the Department of Planning and Zoning. He said he would need to contact property owners and find out which ones are willing to sell their land.

The Rural Legacy program, in its second year, has saved 26,200 acres from development. This year, the governor committed $25 million to buy and preserve more than 12,000 acres around the state.

Pickens said Howard County applied for Rural Legacy funding for about 580 acres along the upper Patuxent River and about 493 acres in the Cattail Creek watershed. He said both properties were either significant links to preservation areas or adjacent to such areas.

He said he didn't expect the state to fund all of the county's request, especially because Howard County has high land values, making purchases more expensive.

Michael Morrill, a spokesman for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, said both of Howard County's applications were originally low on the priority list, but the upper Patuxent probably stood out because it's across the river from a Rural Legacy tract in Montgomery County. He said the land would one day be part of a greenway that includes portions of Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, St. Mary's and Calvert counties.

He said conservationists hope that all the land along the Patuxent River eventually will be preserved.

"The areas that have been designated are those facing the biggest development pressures," he said.

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