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County gets $1.8 million for land preservation

September 23, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A $1.8 million state grant awarded to Washington County will help preserve land around Antietam National Battlefield from development.

"The $1.8 million was a surprise," Eric Seifarth, the county's land preservation administrator, said Friday. "I really didn't think it would be that much."

The money will be used to preserve the land through the Rural Legacy Program. The county's rural legacy area is around the battlefield.

The program helps local governments preserve top natural, agricultural and cultural areas, according to a written statement from the county.

The county's goal is to have about 12,000 rural legacy acres near the battlefield preserved, Seifarth said.

There now are about 3,300 acres preserved through that program.

With a price of about $7,000 an acre, Seifarth said the $1.8 million will pay for the preservation of about 250 to 300 acres.

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Seifarth said the county received about $1 million last fiscal year.

The county typically applies for a large amount of money, then waits to hear what it will receive, Seifarth said.

The county applied for $3 million or $4 million this year, he said.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich announced the grant award in a press release Monday.

It was part of $26 million handed out statewide. The state says 4,535 acres across the state will be preserved with the money.

"The Rural Legacy Program is exceptional because it allows local governments and non-profits to identify and plan for preservation at the local level, through a grassroots process," Ehrlich said in a written statement.

Washington County has about 21,000 total acres preserved through a combination of programs. The goal is preserving 50,000 acres, Seifarth said.

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