ACLT is asking the Board of County Commissioners to restore land preservation funding in the proposed county budget to $2.5 million. We believe that part of the funding should be used in the Purchase and Retirement (PAR) fund which retires rather than redirects residential growth. The other money should be used to match the state’s land preservation programs.
In our land preservation community, we have been extremely disappointed that there has not been a Calvert County Rural Legacy application for the past two years. Governor Hogan has moved to full funding of land preservation programs out of a desire to preserve rural Maryland landscapes and yet Calvert land owners have not been able to participate. The state has a matching funds option which would further leverage of county monies if we would only participate. The next cycle begins in February. If we don’t even apply and put money in the budget for matching state programs, we are ignoring a great opportunity.
According to the 2018 BEACON Report, Calvert’s rural economies generated over $100 million in economic benefit in 2018. According to a study by Dr. Elliott Campbell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Calvert’s rural lands produce $195 million in ecosystem services each year. What is an ecosystem service? It can be broadly defined as a benefit people receive from the environment such as stormwater mitigation, nutrient uptake, air quality improvement, and wildlife habitat that benefits both hunters and wildlife watchers. However, the study cautions that we lost about $1.5 million in ecosystem services each year from 1973 to 2010 for a total loss of $55 million as Calvert changed from 6% developed to 30% developed. Factoring $100 million per year in economic benefit and $195 million in ecosystem services benefit, our rural lands are too important to allow them to be further carved up with suburban sprawl.
Calvert has had a great land preservation program for over 40 years and we have permanently protected 30,000 acres of prime farm and forestland out of a county goal to preserve 40,000 acres. Let’s get the job done.
Please send a message to COMMISS@calvertcountymd.gov and ask that these funds be returned.
ACLT Executive Director