ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Conservancy are announcing that the process for selecting properties for a new landmark environmentally sensitive land preservation program has officially launched. Local non-profit organizations can now formally express interest in participating in the Purchased Conservation Easement pilot program.
This program, the first of its kind in Maryland, provides financial incentives to non-profit property owners to permanently protect environmentally sensitive areas. County Executive Ball has committed $2 million towards the program, which will be managed by the Conservancy and overseen by the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ). The County and the Conservancy finalized their operating agreement in October.
This transformational program continues our commitment to preservation, and will protect our most significant environmental resources and help ensure the environmental health of the county for our future. I want to thank the Howard County Conservancy for its leadership and encourage our county’s non-profit sector to join us in this critical effort.
Howard County’s innovative program specifically targets non-profit properties that support Howard County’s Green Infrastructure Network or feature considerable wetlands, streams or forest cover. Private schools, cemeteries, religious facilities and other non-profits are encouraged to submit an expression of interest to the Conservancy.
“We are thrilled to invite local non-profits to express their interest in participating,” said Howard County Conservancy Executive Director Meg Boyd. “We hope this pilot is the first step to building a thriving program.”
Non-profit properties will be ranked for qualification based on several factors, including the value of their environmental resources, their adjacency to existing protected land and their degree of public access. Easement purchases will be made by the Conservancy, which will monitor easement properties for compliance with environmental protection goals.
Following the example of the County’s successful Agricultural Land Preservation Program, we are excited to expand our preservation efforts by targeting properties that may have been unable to take advantage of previous easement programs. This program will also help support the County’s current Green Infrastructure Network by protecting natural resources in environmentally sensitive areas and furthering connections within the network.”
The new program is modeled after the County’s Agricultural Land 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 shut down by the previous administration. Since restarting the program, there are seven new properties, including Dickey Farm, now in the Agricultural Land Preservation Program or in the acquisition pipeline, totaling more than 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. In October, County Executive Ball completed the purchase of the nearly 21-acre Camp Ilchester property, preventing the loss of an environmental treasure and stopping another 105 units of potential residential development.
Any non-profit that owns property in Howard County is eligible to apply to the latest program. For more information, non-profit property owners can visit the Howard County Conservancy website.