The process for selecting properties owned by Howard County nonprofits for a new environmentally-sensitive land preservation program has begun. Local nonprofits can now formally express interest in participating in the county’s Purchased Conservation Easement pilot program.
This program, the first of its kind in Maryland, provides financial incentives to nonprofit property owners to permanently protect environmentally sensitive areas. Howard County 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.
The program targets nonprofit properties that support its Green Infrastructure Network or feature considerable wetlands, streams or forest cover. Private schools, cemeteries, religious facilities and other nonprofits are encouraged to submit an expression of interest to the Conservancy.
Nonprofit properties will be ranked for qualification based on factors such as 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.
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 during the past 40 years.