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County receives Rural Legacy money

February 09, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Tuesday announced a $300,000 Rural Legacy grant for conservation easements in the area of Antietam National Battlefield.

The specific properties were not identified because of pending negotiations with the property owners, said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

The grant was one of 16 statewide, totaling $7.25 million. Ehrlich has said $14.9 million will be available for conservation easements in fiscal year 2006, which begins July 1.

While the program is not new - it began in 1998 - the governor has set new criteria for distributing easements based on the property's ecological value.

"This program has and will continue to be important, but it is just one part of a larger program" of environmental policies based on restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, Ehrlich said. He said the Board of Public Works now uses scientific data to help prioritize properties eligible for Rural Legacy money.

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The largest grant, $900,000, went to Queen Anne's County. Frederick County received a $600,000 grant and Garrett County received a $300,000 grant.

The Rural Legacy Program encourages local governments and private land trusts to identify areas rich in forestry and agricultural resources for preservation. They compete for preservation money that is mainly used to buy conservation easements from landowners.

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