Overview of American Chestnut Land Trust
ACLT seeks to connect people to the land by providing free access to 24 miles of trails across a 3,400 acre preserve, guided canoe trips on the beautiful Parkers Creek, and regenerative farming donations that benefit a local food pantry. ACLT is dedicated to land conservation and to the community.
ACLT began when a group of Calvert County residents purchased a parcel of land in order to prevent the development of farming and forested landscapes surrounding their community. The first property ACLT purchased was home to a lone chestnut tree which survived the chestnut blight of the 1900s, thus inspiring the organization’s name. Since this initial purchase, ACLT has been expanding preservation efforts throughout the Parkers Creek and Governors Run watersheds in Calvert County, partnering with The Nature Conservancy and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The land trust agreed to undertake the long-term management of any properties acquired by The Nature Conservancy, and later, by the state.
What We Do
- Farming: ACLT maintains a one-acre sustainable farming operation, known as Double Oak Farm. With the help of devoted volunteers, our farm is able to be a source of organic, healthy food for those experiencing food insecurity in our community, as we donate 80% of our harvest to the local food pantry. Double Oak Farm also aims to educate visitors by demonstrating different regenerative and sustainable farming techniques in our Educational and Demonstration Garden Experiment.
- Birds, Mammals and Fish: ACLT is currently conducting a comprehensive survey of bird and fish populations to better inform our habitat support and improvement programs (Spring 2017). The National Audubon Society deemed the Parkers Creek Watershed an “Important Bird Area” for statewide conservation and describes the it as “the most diverse relatively undisturbed multi-ecosystem left on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.”
- Forest: Working with our Science Committee, we’re designing a method of taking inventory of our forest species diversity and monitoring how they change over time. Forests types include old growth, dry upland, coastal plain, mesic mixed hardwood and wetland. Plant life is bountiful and varied including several endangered species.
- Insects, Reptiles and Amphibians: Because of the large forested areas around vernal pools, a wide variety of these species thrive in the Parkers Creek Watershed including several notable rare and endangered species.
- Water Quality Monitoring: For more than 20 years ACLT has continually sampled the waters of Parkers Creek to ensure its health. Currently, the watershed exceeds all standards set for the county and is one of the healthiest in the region.
- Outreach: To help implement ACLT’s Mission to “promote land conservation and preservation throughout Southern Maryland, ACLT operates a robust outreach program to involve the local community in our many programs and activities.
- Events: As part of its outreach program, ACLT offers public events throughout the year. In addition to events hosted by ACLT, volunteers represent ACLT at numerous off-site events (e.g., Patuxent River Appreciation Days, Green Expo, etc.).
- Membership: ACLT is a member-supported nonprofit and offers several benefits for members only, such as free canoe trips, advance registration to events, and monthly full moon hikes. As of the end of 2021, there were over 800 member families.
- Volunteers: ACLT would be nothing without its extremely active corps of volunteers. Two different crews gather weekly to work on maintenance of all trails, buildings, equipment, etc. Volunteers also serve on ACLT’s numerous commitees and help with events, canoe trips, etc.
- Maryland Master Naturalists Class: A “Master Naturalist” is a citizen scientist who is dedicated to the care and conservation of Maryland’s natural environment. Certified Master Naturalists share their knowledge with the community through guided hikes and canoe trips, create and improve habitat for wildlife, work with scientists to monitor the health of our land and waterways, find and help remove invasive species that are damaging our native plants, etc. Part of the state-wide program, ACLT’s Master Naturalist class is held yearly from February to June.
ACLT in Numbers
American Chestnut Land Trust has preserved over 3,500 acres in Calvert County, Maryland. ACLT owns nearly 1,400 acres, manages 1,800 acres owned by the State of Maryland, and holds conservation easements on 374 privately-owned acres. These properties are also known as the Parkers Creek Preserve.
ACLT’s New Little Lending Library Now Open at Double Oak Barn We are pleased to announce that ACLT’s long-time supporter and super talented-carpenter, Tay Vaughan,
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Community Relations Manager