Maryland's Rural Legacy Program
Lands that produce food and provide scenic open space, wildlife habitat and clean water are increasingly at risk from urban sprawl and rural subdivisions. According to an American Farmland Trust (AFT) study, every state in the nation is losing irreplaceable agricultural resources to urban sprawl, converting more than one million acres a year to development. Annually, Maryland is converting 25,000 acres of agricultural and forest lands to development. By the year 2020, one million additional people will call Maryland their home.
The Rural Legacy Program provides the focus and funding necessary to protect large, contiguous tracts of land and other strategic areas from sprawl development and to enhance natural resource, agricultural, forestry and environmental protection through cooperative efforts among state and local governments and land trusts.
Protection is provided through the acquisition of easements and fee estates from willing landowners and the supporting activities of Rural Legacy Sponsors and local governments.
The Rural Legacy Program's goals are:
to establish greenbelts of forests and farms around rural communities in order to preserve their cultural heritage and sense of place,
to preserve critical habitat for native plant and wildlife species,
to support natural resource economies such as farming, forestry, tourism and outdoor recreation, and
to protect riparian forests, wetlands, and greenways to buffer the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from pollution run-off.
Why is farmland and open space protection important?
Saving farmland and open space is an investment in rural communities, rural economies and our important natural resources. Determining how we use our dwindling natural resources will be among the most important issues for the State over the next decade or longer. The competition for land -- especially productive agricultural land -- will only intensify as Maryland’s population grows and the communications revolution makes it easier for us to live and work in widely-dispersed communities. To assure a prosperous future, we must save our farmland and protect our green infrastructure.
Laws & Regulations
Natural Resources Article, §§5-9A -
Rural Legacy Program, Annotated Code of Maryland
...Saving the best of what's left
by creating greenbelts around
and saving our remaining countryside.
- Program Process
- Rural Legacy Board
- Rural Legacy Advisory Committee
- Rural Legacy Area Contacts
- Rural Legacy Area Sponsors
- Rural Legacy Area Descriptions
- Rural Legacy Area Maps
- Application Process
- Application Process How to Apply
- New Applicants
- Grant Renewal Applicants
- Rural Legacy Documents & Forms
- Evaluation Criteria
- Definitions of Key Terms
- Other Land Protection Methods
- Rural Legacy Program Home