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Easements would preserve farmland

December 23, 2008

HAGERSTOWN -- State and county officials last week approved the purchase of four easements that, if accepted by the landowners, will permanently preserve about 468 acres of Washington County land for agricultural use.

Three of the easements, totaling 357 acres, will be purchased through the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation for about $2.2 million. Two will preserve land in the Clear Spring area and one will preserve land in the Williamsport area, according to Eric Seifarth, the county's rural preservation administrator.

The fourth easement is for about 111 acres about three miles northwest of Antietam National Battlefield, Seifarth said. It will be purchased through the Rural Legacy Program, which provides state grants to protect prime natural, agricultural and cultural areas from sprawl, Seifarth said.

Under all of the easements, the landowners would retain ownership of the property, but would agree not to develop it for industrial, commercial or residential use.

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About 24,000 acres permanently are preserved for agricultural use in Washington County, Seifarth said. The county's goal is to preserve 50,000 acres, or about one-sixth of the county's land mass, he said.

-- Heather Keels

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