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Governor Martin O’Malley Announces The Preservation Of Blackwater Land
728 acres along the Little Blackwater River will be preserved and restored
ANNAPOLIS — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced Board of Public Works (BPW) approval of the State’s $10,321,000 acquisition of 728 acres along the Little Blackwater River, near Cambridge in Dorchester County.
“The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding lands are a national and a state treasure, and I am proud to be able to protect this critical land for future generations,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “This transaction demonstrates how diverse interests, when determined, can work together to preserve and protect our natural resources.”
Funded by Program Open Space, this transaction will allow for the preservation and restoration of more than two-thirds of a 1,072-acre parcel slated for development on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The property lies within a green infrastructure hub that has been the focus of land conservation efforts by the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, as well as local governments and land trusts.
Under an agreement with the State, the sellers, Thomas Land Group, LLC and Egypt Road LLC, will limit development on the remaining 328 acres to 675 houses -- a 75 percent reduction from the originally approved 2,700-unit Blackwater Resorts Development -- and use bio-retention and other best management practices to provide for stormwater control measures able to manage a 10-year storm event.
"We are very pleased that the state has committed to restoring over 700 acres of sensitive land along the Little Blackwater River in Dorchester County,” said Kim Coble, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “We applaud the O'Malley Administration for negotiating a settlement that allows for development to occur that is limited in size and scope, farming to continue in a region that has a strong agricultural community and the environment and water quality to be protected. Truly, this is a win-win outcome for all.”
The sellers have also agreed to contribute more than $1.9 million to implement an extensive site restoration plan devised by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Dorchester County Soil Conservation District. The restoration will provide for substantial water quality improvements through riparian forest buffer and wetland establishment, creation of diverse wildlife habitats, and implementation of state-of-the-art agricultural best management practices. The Little Blackwater River drains into the Blackwater River through Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. The restoration plan will be reviewed by a task force comprised of local stakeholders.
“Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is very excited about the purchase of a majority of the Blackwater Resort by Maryland's Program Open Space. With 70 percent of the land protected and 75 percent of the development stopped we feel it is a fair compromise,” said Rob Etgen, ESLC's Executive Director. "We are also proud of our effort to involve local communities and pleased to see key members included on the task force to help decide how this important land will be used.”
Chaired by Governor O’Malley, the Board of Public Works is also comprised of Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp. The Board is authorized by the General Assembly to approve major construction and consultant contracts, equipment purchases, property transactions and other procurement actions.
Since 1969, Program Open Space has provided funding for acquisition of nearly 292,000 acres for open space and recreational areas. Most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded by this program.
April 18, 2007
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov