Sunset over Blackwater River
Sunset over Blackwater River Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge contains one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands, which provide storm protection to lower Dorchester County. © Ray Paterra / USFWS


Partnership Conserves 438 Acres for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chesapeake Conservancy add an additional 438 acres to the refuge.

The Taylors Trail Sand Ridge Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) in Wicomico County is home to an additional 438 acres of conserved land at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Chesapeake Conservancy.

TNC and USFWS collaborated to identify the property’s natural attributes and worked with the landowner to include it as an important addition to the national refuge system. In addition, the project was made possible with the help of private funds secured by the Chesapeake Conservancy from the Mt. Cuba Center and funds from the sale of the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Duck Stamps. 

“We can only succeed in conserving wildlife on a landscape level through partnerships with organizations like Chesapeake Conservancy and local communities. The Duck Stamp is an excellent example of how waterfowl hunters and others who buy them can directly contribute, with 98% of the funds going to land acquisition. Each partner plays an important role which ultimately protects habitat and provides a place where the public can still enjoy wildlife, whether by bird watching, hunting, hiking, or fishing, all vital to the economic as well as ecological health of the Nanticoke watershed,” explains Marcia Pradines, complex manager for the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Conservation success stories often involve many partners. Once again, Mt. Cuba Center was there to help us bring another high priority conservation project over the finish line,” said Joel Dunn, Chesapeake Conservancy’s president and CEO. “This parcel includes 95 acres of forest and is located just downstream from a previously protected corridor of more than 19,000 acres that was made possible through a partnership with Mt. Cuba Center, Chesapeake Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, the Department of Defense, and other partners.”

“Mt. Cuba Center is committed to the conservation of open space and natural habitats,” said Ann Rose, Mt. Cuba Center’s president. “We thank Chesapeake Conservancy for their leadership in this important project, and we’re gratified that our support helped bring partners together to conserve these precious landscapes.”

“We were so fortunate to find this unique gem of diverse plant and wildlife habitat right in the heart of the Nanticoke watershed. We are pleased that the efforts of this coalition of private and public partners resulted in the permanent protection of this property that had been in the landowner’s family for generations,” said Elizabeth Carter, land protection director for The Nature Conservancy.

The property, now part of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, is comprised of upland forest, over 275 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands, a stand of mature Atlantic white cedars, and a unique dune habitat that will be restored to native short-leaf pine.

In addition to its location in the heart of the Taylors Trail Sand Ridge ESA, it is proximate to the Barren Creek ESA, and more than 200 acres of protected Chesapeake forest land.

“The Department of Defense celebrates this conservation achievement. While not directly involved in this project, it complements the Navy’s conservation projects in the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape, ensuring that Atlantic Test Ranges and Naval Air Station Patuxent River can continue to develop, test, and evaluate safe and effective aircraft for our nation’s service men and women,” said Kristin Thomasgard, director of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

Mt. Cuba Center

With paths welcoming guests from the formal gardens of a du Pont mansion through stunning vistas, intimate woodlands and lush meadows, Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden that puts the beauty of native landscapes on display to inspire conservation. What began in the 1930s as the private estate of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland is now a public garden that centers on the beauty and value of native plants. In addition to cultivating the public garden's formal and naturalistic landscapes, Mt. Cuba Center staff conduct research, connect guests to the natural world, and teach students about native plant horticulture. Gardens are open for general admission Wednesday to Sunday, April to November. Classes are offered year-round. More information at

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, we helped create 170 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.