The Nature Conservancy and the Maryland Environmental Trust worked with an Allegany County farm family to protect their farmland and forests, on land located along a tributary to Sideling Hill Creek, which connects with the Potomac River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Sideling Hill Creek is important freshwater habitat for the rare aquatic flower, harperella, more than 40 fish species, and rare freshwater mussels, including the green floater.
David and Susan Trail sold a conservation easement on their 128-acre farm to the Conservancy and donated a portion of the appraised value of the easement to the Maryland Environmental Trust, a co-holder of the easement. Maryland Environmental Trust is authorized by law to accept private donations of interests in real estate, money or other property; such gifts are tax deductible. The Trail’s easement is one of several easements being pursued by both the Conservancy and MET in Allegany County. TNC and MET have seen a modest resurgence in landowners interested in using conservation easements in Allegany County.
David Trail is a third-generation farmer, who was born and raised on his family’s farm in Flintstone. The Trails have worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Allegany County Soil Conservation District to implement agricultural best management practices, including planting natural buffers along a tributary along their property, which connects to Sideling Hill Creek.
“We believe strongly in the preservation of farmland and open space in Allegany County,” said Susan Trail. “Conveying this conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy and Maryland Environmental Trust is our way of ensuring that those who come after us will be able to enjoy this beautiful landscape as much as we have.”
David Trail added: “I want to thank Allegany County Soil and Conservation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Maryland Environmental Trust and The Nature Conservancy for helping me develop plans for my land that meet our goals and vision for the present and future use of our land.”
The Trails’ farm is located in the Central Appalachians. Spanning Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, the Central Appalachians is one of the best examples of intact temperate forests in the world. The region is home to unique habitats and rare communities found nowhere else in the world.
“The Central Appalachians are a tremendous mosaic of diverse forests and freshwater systems that sustain wildlife while providing recreational opportunities and clean drinking water to millions of people,” said Donnelle Keech, The Nature Conservancy’s Allegany Forests director. “Conservation easements are an effective tool for private landowners who have long-term plans to manage their lands for agriculture, forestry, hunting, or recreation. Conservation easements keep land in private hands, preserve traditional land uses and conserve land for future generations.”
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement that limits certain development on a piece of property now and in the future, while protecting the property’s ecological, agricultural, and forestry values. The Trail family easement, which will be monitored annually by the Conservancy and the Maryland Environmental Trust, allows for continued agricultural use of the property as well as forest management and a single residence. The easement restricts commercial, industrial and additional residential development of the property.
“This easement contributes to the protection of important natural resources at the headwaters of the Potomac River,” said Adam Block, conservation easement planner for the Maryland Environmental Trust. “MET is pleased to have worked with David and Susan Trail and The Nature Conservancy to craft an easement to help the Trails meet the vision and goals for the future of their property.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.