ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the county’s first land conservation purchase made through the County’s Purchased Conservation Easement Pilot Program with the Howard County Conservancy. The conservation of this ecologically significant site expands the county’s commitment to protecting environmental resources. Photos from the event can be found here.
The first of its kind in Maryland, this innovative Purchased Conservation Easement Pilot Program provides grant funding to the Conservancy to underwrite the cost of acquisitions that protect environmentally significant land owned by non-profits. This program was designed as a win-win for our environment and the organizations that provide fellowship for and service to our community.
The $1.8 million purchase, underwritten by a $2 million grant from Howard County to the Conservancy, will permanently preserve a 62-acre easement between the Conservancy and the non-profit Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. The County provided $500,000 in its FY24 budget to continue this pilot program for another year.
“I want to thank Howard County for their visionary development here in the easement. It takes a lot of effort to think outside the box,” said Victor Marinich, Parish Council President of the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. “I think we all had the same objective- whether it was the County, the Conservancy, or us as the church. To be able to work with each other, to come up with a plan that really was win-win-win, I think was fantastic.”
The County has nearly 63,500 acres of protected land in the form of parks, open space and preservation easements, which accounts for nearly 40% of total land in Howard County. The County and state partners have preserved 23,132 acres of farmland through the Agricultural Preservation Programs.
I want to thank County Executive Ball for supporting this concept to find new and different ways for environmental conservation in our County. This easement brings the Conservancy to the milestone of 2,000 acres preserved across the county - starting with our first conservation easement in 1992 on 20 acres on Trotter Road. What a fitting way to reach this milestone with such an environmentally significant property.
Ball launched the Purchased Conservation Easement Pilot Program last year, which was the first of its kind in the state of Maryland. In 2022, Ball committed an initial $2 million, which specifically targeted non-profit property owners and provide financial incentives to preserve environmentally significant properties permanently.
“When this program was announced in July 2022, County Executive Ball noted ‘if the right tools don’t exist, we must build them,’” said Janssen Evelyn, Board Secretary of the Howard County Conservancy. “Bold, creative solutions to problems require vision and passion. On behalf of the Conservancy and my fellow board members, staff, and volunteers, I am grateful for the Ball administration's dedication to shaping public policy and building the tools that further ensure that our children and future generations have the opportunity to learn about wild spaces.”