Eastern Shore Land Conservancy announced an aggressive campaign to save a property along the Marshyhope River that is in danger of being turned into a large-scale mining operation.
The 392-acre property with its location at the confluence of the Marshyhope and Nanticoke Rivers in Dorchester County, is part of the region identified by The Nature Conservancy as one of the State’s "Last Great Places." This property stretches along the Marshyhope River for 1.3 miles and is the site of the globally rare Wades Savanna wetland, the only wetland of its kind in the state of Maryland. The property is also known to contain habitat for a lengthy list of rare, threatened and endangered species as well as ancient sand dunes. Over the last 20 years, conservation organizations in partnership with local landowners, Dorchester County, the State, and the Federal government have protected over 10,000 acres in the immediate vicinity.
Despite long-time efforts by various conservation groups to protect the land, the property was purchased in 2006 for the purpose of mining sand and gravel. In February 2008, the owner filed an application for a special use exception and permits for a large-scale sand and gravel mining operation and on March 20, 2008, a hearing was held before the Dorchester County Board of Appeals. Several hundred local residents, community leaders, conservationists, and concerned Boy Scouts who opposed the mining operation attended the hearing. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) has secured a contract to purchase the property in order to protect it forever. The purchase price of the property is a bargain sale at $5.2 million dollars, less than the lowest appraised value. A portion of the purchase price will be funded through a Federal grant. The remainder of the purchase price will be funded through private donations. ESLC seeks to raise $375,000 in private funds. The effort to protect this property was supported by a number of key organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Boy Scouts of America and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Once the property is purchased, ESLC anticipates it will be transferred to a public entity, such as Dorchester County, then leased to the Boy Scouts where it will be used for low-impact water access for canoeing and kayaking and restoration of the small area of agricultural fields for wildlife habitat.
Concerned citizens who want to learn more about this special property and how they can contribute to the fundraising campaign can contact ESLC’s Director of Land Conservation, Meredith Lathbury, at 410.827.9756 ext. 167 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An online petition has been set-up for residents wishing to show their support for saving this property at www.ipetitions.com/petition/Marshyhope/.