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Flook farm being preserved

December 27, 2001

Flook farm being preserved



By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


The Keedysville farm that was used as a backdrop for "Gods and Generals" will be shielded from development under the state's Rural Legacy program.

Maryland's Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to pay Austin and JoAnne Flook $1 million for a conservation easement on 406 acres of farmland.

The easement would not prevent the Civil War movie's sequel from being filmed on the farm. Media mogul Ted Turner has bought the film rights to "Last Full Measure," but no further plans have been made.

Director Ronald F. Maxwell staged battle scenes for "Gods and Generals" on the farm this fall.

Movie crews rented the land from September through last week. A few people still were there Thursday doing cleanup work. The movie is scheduled for release in November 2002.

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When contacted Thursday, JoAnne Flook said she had not received official word of the easement.

In the works for about a year, the easement probably will be finalized in February 2002, said Eric Seifarth, Washington County's farmland preservation coordinator.

JoAnne Flook said she wanted to preserve the farm for her 3-year-old grandson.

"'Til he grows up there won't be an inch of ground if I don't preserve it for him," she said.

A Rural Legacy easement will prevent the land from being developed.

The Flook's easement spells out that movie filming will be allowed, Seifarth said. Although it wasn't necessary, the provision was added as a precaution, he said.

The Flook farm is steeped in history. Austin Flook found a land grant marker on his property dating to 1732 and figures only three farmers have owned it since then.

Although it wasn't the site of Civil War fighting, the landscape looks like a typical farm of the period.

It's been in the family for more than 100 years. Austin and JoAnne Flook moved in shortly after they were married 47 years ago. Over the years, they milked cows, raised horses and grew crops.

The Flook property contains a significant amount of floodplain, protects stream buffers on Little Antietam Creek and connects 1,200 acres of contiguous protected land, according to the state.

About 13,000 acres of land in Washington County have been permanently protected through various easement programs, Seifarth said. The county's goal is 50,000 acres.

Washington County has received $5.25 million through the state's Rural Legacy program. So far, the county has spent $4.85 million of the grant to preserve 2,147 acres, he said.

Gov. Parris Glendening earlier this year criticized some other counties for not spending the grants fast enough.

"We have markedly stepped up our efforts," Seifarth said.

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