Scenic Rivers Land Trust Celebrates 25 Years of Conservation in Anne Arundel County
Since 1988, Scenic Rivers Land Trust (SRLT) has protected 61 conservation properties in Anne Arundel County, totaling 2,700 acres, or 1% of the land in the County. Supporters and volunteers gathered Friday night at the Bistro at South River for a 25th birthday celebration and kick-off for a new goal of reaching 5,000 protected acres by 2016.
At the event, SRLT Board President Andrew Garte challenged those who support land preservation to rise to the financial challenge and support SRLT on a scale that makes grand visions possible. “A common refrain of land trusts is that we are competing against the clock of conservation opportunities lost, said Garte.”
SRLT protects land by working with willing landowners who want to voluntarily restrict development of their land, often realizing tax benefits. Landowners retain ownership, but agree to permanent guidelines on management of their land. “Our primary tool is a perpetual conservation easement which is customized for each individual property,” explained SRLT Executive Director Rick Leader. “An easement may allow a landowner to harvest financial value from family land, while at the same time ensuring its protection,” Leader added.
SRLT is also very active in promoting community open space and is best known for its annual Walk for the Woods, which it conducts with the Department of Recreation and Parks, to promote public access to the County’s Bacon Ridge Natural Area in Crownsville. Bacon Ridge is the centerpiece of the South River Greenway, a priority area for SRLT that encompasses over 10,000 acres of high quality wildlife habitat and has incredible potential for wilderness recreation. SRLT’s plans for future protection efforts can be found on our website, www. SRLT.org.
At the celebration, SRLT welcomed former Bay Land Trust board members and landowners who recently chose to consolidate their easement portfolio and assets into SRLT. Along with other projects, the Bay Land Trust worked with the Bay Ridge Community to preserve 120 acres of mature forest in the community in 2002. The leadership of the Bay Land Trust and the support of the surrounding community for this enlightened and complicated protection effort have been held up as a model for all land trusts and communities to emulate. “The Bay Ridge Forest is a perfect example of how protected open space can add economic value to a community, increase quality of life, and be compatible with vibrant neighborhood development,” said Leader.
“We are eager to charge toward our ambitious goals, and we carry the burden of continuously monitoring the properties we protect, but it is important at milestones such as this to pause to celebrate and thank the many community volunteers, supporters and landowners who have made this a better community for all of us,” concluded Garte.
SRLT believes that preserved open space is critical to the community’s economic and social vitality. It counterbalances surrounding development and provides opportunities for exercise and solitary escape. We value the critical functions of healthy natural systems in managing stormwater, protecting groundwater sources, and filtering pollutants. SRLT strives to safeguard intact natural areas that offer habitat for native plants and animals, promoting resiliency against future challenges.
- DNR: Easement Preserves 95 Acres in Anne Arundel County (southriversource.com)