Thursday, August 28, 2008

ESLC Needs your input! Take our 2008 Eastern Shore Poll!

ESLC is currently conducting an online poll to gather the attitudes and opinions of our members and friends about important land protection and conservation issues facing the Eastern Shore. Please take a few minutes to take this online poll....we will be sending five randomly selected respondents a goody bag filled with some of our favorite ESLC gear as a thank you (just be sure to provide your email at the end of the survey to be included!) Please click here to take the survey or visit our website at!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ESLC Announces New Planning Position to Assist Towns with HB 1141

ESLC Announces New Position to Assist Towns with HB1141
New Capacity An Extension of Conservancy’s Land Use Planning Program

ESLC has announced the addition of new planning capability to support towns and municipalities on the Shore with Maryland House Bill 1141 (HB1141) and related issues. This new capability will be an extension of ESLC’s Land Use Planning program, which was launched in 2002 to help provide support to towns and counties on issues related to growth and development in the region.
This effort includes the addition of a two-year position, funded by a grant from the Keith Campbell Foundation, that will provide support for local governments in ESLC’s service area in implementing the two HB 1141-required elements into town and county comprehensive plans. The program will also launch a broad-based education initiative to make widely available the most applicable and effective town annexation tools, techniques, and models of how healthy, strong communities grow.
"We are very excited to be able to add this important service to our organization and believe it will help us provide essential support to our local governments during this very important time for growth and development on the Eastern Shore," said Amy Owsley, ESLC’s Director of Land Use Planning. "Right now we are in the middle of conducting a HB 1141needs assessment of our towns. Once we have a better handle on specific needs, we will hire a talented, energetic planner to lend a hand. "
This new planner position will be coordinated with the Maryland Department of Planning but is not a replication of or replacement for MDP’s recent staffing changes.
"Our goals is helping our local communities realize their goals as quality, attractive, healthy places to live and one of our first solid steps in this critical vein of work centers on HB 1141," said Owsley. "Our plans to provide this support were in place well before the staffing changes at MDP and this effort is not at all a replacement for the important services provided by MDP. It is our hope to provide short-term services in HB1141 services and develop a long-term understanding on how we can effectively support town planning in the years to come."
ESLC is currently in the recruitment phase of the hire process and is providing grant writing support to support to towns eligible for state funding that can be used for HB 1141 work.
For more details about ESLC’s circuit rider program, please visit
ESLC is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of farmland and habitat on the Eastern Shore. Funded by member contributions, ESLC helps landowners to discover, evaluate and implement any of the voluntary land preservation options available. ESLC works to sustain the Eastern Shore's rich landscapes through strategic land conservation and sound land use planning.Our vision in 2050 is an Eastern Shore where towns are vibrant and well defined; farms, forests, and fisheries are thriving and scenic; historic, natural, and riverine landscapes are maintained. ESLC helps save land and promote sound land use planning from the C&D Canal in Cecil County all the way to the Nanticoke River in Dorchester County. We work in Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties. Since its inception in 1990, ESLC has helped landowners to protect more than 45,500 acres of farmland and important habitat on 245 Eastern Shore properties.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MDp Announces Smart Growth Listening Sessions!

MDP and MD’s Growth Task Force Host Public Listening Sessions
Citizens Share Ideas and Concerns on Growth and Development

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland are hosting a series of public forums across the State for residents to share their thoughts and ideas on future growth in the state. Six Smart Growth Listening Sessions, planned for September, will take place in Maryland’s regions (Baltimore Metropolitan, Washington Suburban, Southern Maryland, Lower Eastern Shore, Upper Eastern Shore and Western Maryland) and are open to all citizens.
The Listening Sessions begin at 6:30 p.m. to accommodate diverse public input on a variety of growth-related topics including, smart sustainable growth; growth and a healthy environment; regional development; historic preservation; transportation and growth; and growth and schools. Moderated by community leaders, these sessions are designed like town hall meetings with open discussion on these important matters.
"Protecting our forests and agricultural land and ensuring our existing communities remain places where our citizens want to live, work, and play is a worthy and achievable goal of all stakeholders statewide," said MDP Secretary Richard E. Hall, AICP. His agency and the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland are exploring a wide range of smart growth and land use issues affecting the state.
Task Force Chair and partner at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP Jon M. Laria said, "These sessions will facilitate understanding citizen and community leaders’ priorities and ideas. The Task Force recognizes a broad audience for the public discussion on future growth. We must know how those affected by development feel and consider their recommended solutions."

Listening Sessions will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. over two weeks in September at the following:
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 – Wicomico County High School in Salisbury
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 – Queen Anne’s County High School in Centreville
Thursday, September 18, 2008 – James Blake High School in Silver Spring
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 – Southern Maryland Electrical Cooperative in Hughesville
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 – Woodlawn High School, Baltimore County
Thursday, September 25, 2008 – Bridge of Life in Hagerstown
For information on the Listening Sessions, visit MDP's website.

The Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland was formed under House Bill 773 signed into law during the 2007 session of the Maryland General Assembly. Its 21 members are charged with studying a wide range of growth and land use issues affecting Maryland. Public input will help guide the Task Force’s work. MDP promotes growth that fosters vibrant, livable communities, preserves and protects the environment, safeguards historical and cultural resources and makes efficient use of State resources. The department also provides data, trend analysis, research assistance, and policy development and implementation support for local governments, communities, businesses, and organizations.

Friday, August 15, 2008

ESLC in the Midnight Hour to Save Dorchester Property!

Photo by Dave Harp

We are still in need of your help to save a property along the Marshyhope River hat is in danger of being turned into a large-scale mining operation...we have just a few days left until closing so we need you now more than ever! Any help you can give is appreciated...forwarding this email to your email list, donations of any size, a signature on our petition...are all greatly appreciated!

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.

How can YOU help? There are a few ways....

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

Friday, August 8, 2008

ESLC Website Has a New Look

After many months, ESLC's website has a new face! The design was done by Amber Spence of Eastern Sure Web Design, a Talbot-County based business. We will be adding new features and graphics over the coming months but think you will find the new design and navigation will make it much easier to find what you need from the ESLC site! Please let us know if you have suggestions or questions! Check out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

ESLC Announces Annual Planning Conference!

ESLC will hold its 10th Annual Planning Conference on Friday, November 7, 2008 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills. This year's conference "Where are the Eastern Shore's Roads Taking Us? will focus on transportation issues facing the region. Reid Ewing, PhD of the National Center for Smart Growth will be our keynote speaker for this regional transportation summit. Stay tuned for updates and registration details!