ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced a new land conservation program with the Howard County Conservancy that is the first of its kind in the state of Maryland. County Executive Ball has committed $2 million towards the Purchased Conservation Easement pilot program, which will specifically target non-profit property owners and provide financial incentives to preserve environmentally significant properties permanently. Photos of the event can be found here.

We will always look for bold solutions, backed by science, to combat climate change and preserve Howard County’s legacy for future generations. We now have a new tool to identify sensitive land and preserve it for the future. This program should become a national model to assist the non-profit community in making the best decisions for our shared future.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The program is modeled after the county’s Agricultural Preservation Program, which has been the driving force in preserving nearly 23,000 acres of farmland over the past 40 years. County Executive Ball relaunched the program in 2019, after it was shutdown by the previous administration. Since restarting the program in 2021, Howard County has secured the preservation of the 128-acre Dickey Farm. Since restarting the program, there are seven properties, including Dickey Farm, now in the Agricultural Preservation Program or in the acquisition pipeline, totaling over 300 acres. 
 
County Executive Ball has been focused on preserving land that provides clear agricultural, environmental, and community benefits. In 2020, the county purchased the Savage Remainder Property, removing 35 units of proposed residential development and preserving sensitive ecological land for recreation and open space. Last month, County Executive Ball signed a purchase agreement to acquire the nearly 21-acre Camp Ilchester property, preventing the loss of an environmental treasure and stopping another 105 units of potential residential development. 

The $2 million commitment to the Purchased Conservation Easement program was approved by the County Council in May.  

"Leading the state in land conservation since 1990, I am grateful for County Executive Ball's commitment to Conservation Easements," said Howard County Council Chair Opel Jones. "This robust pilot program would evaluate property in perpetuity and identify terms and agreements between the Conservancy and the property owner."

"This program makes environmental preservation a viable option for properties that previously did not qualify for conservation programs,” said Howard County Conservancy Executive Director Meg Boyd. "I want to thank Calvin Ball and the County Council for their support of this incredibly important program.”

“Preservation is core to our mission and the reason the Conservancy was founded 32 years ago by a group of concerned citizens,” said Howard County Conservancy Board Vice Chair Lisa Marini.

"I am so looking forward to working on the development of this new program as it will fill a gap in our toolbox that has long been a frustration to the land conservation movement. We will now have an incentive to offer to the local, nonprofit property owner,” said Agricultural Preservation Program Board Member Cathy Hudson.

“Howard County’s Purchased Conservation Easement Pilot is a positive, mutually-beneficial program for landowners, the county, preservationists, and Marylanders as a whole,” said Preservation Maryland President and CEO Nick Redding. “Landscapes are evocative and critically important historic resources, and anything that protects more of them is a win for the diverse history of our state.” 

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