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Antietam easement funds approved

July 19, 2000

Antietam easement funds approved



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Maryland Board of Public Works Wednesday approved the use of $764,000 in state Rural Legacy Program funds to buy easements on two contiguous Washington County properties totaling 451 acres.

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Although Rural Legacy funds previously had been authorized for Washington County, Wednesday's action authorizes the county to buy the easements.

It marks the first time the state has approved the purchase of local easements in Washington County for the program, which was launched in 1998, said John Surrick, a Department of the Natural Resources spokesman.

Buying the easements will protect the view at Antietam National Battlefield and will buffer the Antietam River, he said.

One parcel of 220 acres is owned by the Limekiln Partnership on Limekiln Road, said Washington County Farmland Preservation Administrator Eric Seifarth, who attended Wednesday's meeting.

The second is 131 acres owned by the Heron family on Harpers Ferry Road, he said.

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The properties are not only significant from an agricultural standpoint but are important historically, he said.

About 12,000 troops, including those led by Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, camped on those properties during the Civil War, Seifarth said.

In all, the Board of Public Works approved $2.9 million in grants in four counties Wednesday.

Washington County in June was awarded a $1.4 million grant to fund Phase III of the county's Rural Legacy Program. Washington county received $1.8 million for Phase I and $1.3 million for Phase II.

The county uses the money to buy land from property owners with the goal of protecting land around the battlefield from development. Property owners are paid in exchange for agreeing to protect their land from development, and other restrictions.

The easements approved Wednesday involves money from Phase 1, Seifarth said. The money will be given to the property owners within 45 days, he said.

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