Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celebrating a Major Victory this Week

Later this week, ESLC staff and other partners will celebrate a major land protection victory - the protection of a very special place in Dorchester County. On April 24, 2009 at 3 p.m., ESLC will host a ribbon cutting at a property it recently protected on Marshyhope Creek. ESLC's partners in the preservation of this property will be present, including representatives from ESLC, The Nature Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Dorchester County, and the DelMarVa Council of Boy Scouts of America. According to The Nature Conservancy, the property which is located the confluence of the Marshyhope and Nanticoke Rivers in Dorchester County, is one of the State’s “Last Great Places.”

The 392-acre property includes approximately 332 acres of wet and upland forest, The remaining acreage is meadow and wetlands. It is the site of the globally rare Wades Savanna wetland, the only wetland of its kind in Maryland, Wetlands of Special State Concern, as well as ancient sand dunes. The property is also known to contain habitat for a lengthy list of rare, threatened and endangered species.

Despite long-time efforts by conservation groups to protect the land, the property was purchased in 2005 for the purpose of mining sand and gravel. In August 2008, using Federal money through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) and private funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and ESLC The property was purchased in order to protect it forever.

ESLC transferred the property to Dorchester County last September. The County conveyed a conservation easement to ESLC and MET in December, which allows only natural, environmental, educational, scenic, cultural, open space, historic, and rural uses of the property. The property is now leased by Boy Scouts of America, which operates the Richard A. Henson Scout Reservation on an adjacent property.

The ribbon cutting ceremony, which is open to the public, will include a blessing of the land by Chief Winterhawk, remarks by locak officials, as well as tours of the property and refreshments. The property is located at 5603 Sharptown Road in Rhodesdale, MD. For directions and further information, visit www.eslc.org or call 410-827-9756.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Check out ESLC's Spring Newsletter

It is here and hot off the presses for your viewing pleasure...ESLC's Spring newsletter! Want to have it delivered direcly to your door (or save some carbon and have it delivered to your in-box?) Sign up for an ESLC membership - for the first time, we are offering an online membership for only $15! You get all the benefits of an ESLC membership, plus the knowledge that you are helping protect the rich rural heritage of the Eastern Shore - for less than it costs to fill up a tank of gas! Please wander over to the ESLC website at www.eslc.org to sign up or contact our Membership Coordinator, Robin Telepchak at rtelepchak@eslc.org to sign up now!

An Opportunity to make your voice heard about a LOST opportunity

Please join us this Tuesday, April 14 to show your support for protecting the viewshed of the Leaverton House in Caroline County. The Board of Zoning Appeals will make a ruling on the proposal to construct a new cell tower on the Harriet Tubman Underground Byway Corridor in Caroline County. This proposal should be denied by the Caroline County Board of Zoning Appeals because its construction would adversely affect an important cultural and historical resource in the county. This tower, which is proposed for 4321 Langrell Road, would have a tremendous adverse impact on the viewshed of and to the Leaverton house, one of the main stopping houses along the Underground Railroad in Maryland. It is the last standing such “station,” and it is a critical component of future interpretation of the Underground Railroad and pending National Historical Park.
In 2005 ESLC identified the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway corridor as one of our highest priority conservation areas due to its tremendous importance to the culture and heritage of this region. In an effort to save this important resource, ESLC is working with several of the landowners along the corridor on voluntary preservation options, are active with several other government and private protection efforts, and we nominated the Corridor as one of Maryland’s “Last Chance Landscapes” in 2007 - a designation which was awarded by Scenic Maryland.
Based on the obvious impact of a cell tower at the proposed location on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway corridor, and because of the critical importance of this historic area to telling one of America’s greatest freedom stories and celebrating its hero Harriet Tubman, ESLC is strongly opposed to this proposed cell tower.

We encourage the Caroline residents to show their opposition to the Board of Appeals to help protect one of the County’s most important cultural resources.
Please show your support for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway by attending Tuesday's meeting. It will be held at 7:30 pm at the Health & Public Service Building, 403 S. 7th Street, Room 110, Denton, Maryland 21629.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Report Highlights Sprawl Issues: ESLC's take

The recent Environment Maryland report brings up several important issues about the direction of growth on the Eastern Shore and the tools and resource our local governments need to effectively manage that growth. While the report highlights good examples of comprehensive plan inconsistencies in the state, it is important to recognize the efforts our local governments are taking to follow smart growth principles. . Our Eastern Shore counties and towns are working hard against development proposals that go against their comprehensive planning and to their credit, are doing the best in the state to reverse sprawl trends and direct growth where it should be – in and around designated growth areas.

The Eastern Shore is unique in its number of small towns and small-sized priority funding areas, making the challenges our local towns, counties and municipalities a unique and especially challenging one. Eastern Shore 2010, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s (ESLC) regional agreement aimed at strengthening land protection efforts on the Eastern Shore, is one of the ways our local counties have stepped up to take control of growth and avoid making land use planning decisions that are not in line with their long-term needs and goals. One of the key goals of Eastern Shore 2010 –directing 80 percent of all new development to villages and towns – will help our towns and villages grow in way that is consistent with their comprehensive planning process and we are proud of the counties who have signed on to strive toward the goals of Eastern Shore 2010.. More work is needed - in terms of education, resources and legislation to support municipalities in their efforts – as local leaders must make the important decisions needed to manage growth effectively.

In just the next 25 years, the Eastern Shore is expected to grow by 160,000 people – growth that could forever alter the landscape we love so much. Our local leaders must take strong steps to manage growth more effectively before it is too late; before the Eastern Shore we know and love is forever altered.