Land Preservation Through the Rural Legacy Program

RC&D's land preservation efforts began in St. Mary's County. St. Mary’s is situated on a peninsula in Southern Maryland with over 500 miles of shoreline on the Patuxent River, Potomac River, and Chesapeake Bay. As the southernmost point in Maryland on the Bay's western shore, St. Mary’s County is one of the most ecologically and environmentally sensitive lands in the country.

Home to over 110,000 residents, St. Mary’s County is also the home base for the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the Air Test Wing Atlantic Command, and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Command (NAWCAD). With over 200 high-tech aerospace and defense contractors, the County has emerged as a world-class center for maritime aviation research, development, testing, evaluation, and acquisition.

As such, the County realizes the importance of combining land preservation and protection of its natural resources with the responsibility of supporting the Navy’s mission in our community. Commitment to these major objectives has resulted in a strong, successful land preservation program that is now supported and funded by three sources: St. Mary’s County’s Land Preservation Program, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Rural Legacy Program, and the Department of Defense (DOD)’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program.

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RC&D has already permanently protected over 1,700 acres of land through purchase of conservation easements in the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area, and continues to seek new easements there. For a general overview of the Rural Legacy Program in St. Mary's County, click here.

In 2019, RC&D entered into a partnership with Calvert County to preserve land in the Calvert Creeks Rural Legacy Area as well. Calvert County has long been a leader in land preservation efforts, and RC&D is working closely with County staff and community partners to continue meeting the County's preservation goals. RC&D is able to purchase conservation easements using Rural Legacy funding and, in some areas within Calvert Creeks, match that funding with contributions from the REPI Program. Interested landowners should reach out to us.

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Most recently, in 2021, RC&D signed an MOU with Charles County to help administer the Rural Legacy Program there. RC&D will assist the County with processing easements in the Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area and the newly designated Nanjemoy-Mattawoman Forest RLA. This exciting partnership presents many new opportunities for land preservation in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of Southern Maryland.

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