The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund has awarded the Natural Lands Project (NLP) a $678,871 grant. In partnership with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, the funding will focus on working with area landowners in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Talbot Counties interested in converting marginal cropland into productive wildlife habitat.
Over the next three years, the partnership plans to install 230 acres of native grass meadows, pollinator habitat, and buffers, as well as restore 12 acres of wetlands in priority areas of the Upper and Mid-Shore watershed. The restoration of grasslands and wetlands will have an immediate impact on regional biodiversity and wildlife, galvanizing participating landowners with land-based benefits, while immediately improving local water quality.
The funding is part of over $18 million in support for Chesapeake Bay projects that was announced by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in July. The awards have been directed to a total of 22 projects at 77 sites, all of which will improve water quality and habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, while building local resilience to climate impacts. According to a DNR release, the projects awarded funding will benefit local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay by removing more than 41,083 pounds of nitrogen, 4,332 pounds of phosphorus, and 7,967 tons of suspended solids.
“This funding from the Trust Fund allows NLP to continue our primary mission of working with landowners interested in creating habitat on working farms,” said Dan Small, NLP Coordinator. “We are building a lot of momentum for these positive changes to the farm landscape, but there are still many people on the Shore that we have not reached. This new round of funding makes it possible to increase our outreach, develop new partnerships and establish more conservation practices on the ground.”
This is the third grant that the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund has awarded the Natural Lands Project. Previous grants funds have been utilized to plant 495 acres of buffers and meadows and to restore 47 acres of wetlands on private farms throughout Maryland’s Upper Shore. The result is that the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments that negatively impact water quality are prevented from ever leaving the farm lands.
About the Natural Lands Project
Increasing human populations and the rise of intensive farming have shifted the balance away from wildlife and toward humankind on the Eastern Shore. In partnership with a number of organizations, the Natural Lands Project seeks to make the rural landscape more wildlife friendly.
This project is coordinated by the Washington College Center for Environment & Society (CES). CES’s vision is a Chesapeake Bay and watershed that is healthy and thriving; one in which natural systems and human communities are in balance. Washington College provides strong interdisciplinary academic programs that promote the integration of environmental and social values. Graduates of the College gain applied and real-world knowledge and experience, preparing them to be productive citizens, skilled and agile professionals, and champions and stewards of natural and cultural resources.
About Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. ESLC works to ensure a future for rural communities and thriving towns that reflect the region’s culture and heritage. Since 1990, ESLC has helped preserve 63,892 acres of land and establish 310 easements. For more information, please visit www.eslc.org.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited (DU) got its start in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations plunged to unprecedented lows. DU conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. Since DU began, it has invested over $21 million in the mid-Atlantic to conserve nearly 80,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands.
For more information on the Natural Lands Project and how to get involved, contact Dan Small, NLP Project Coordinator, at 410-708-4479 or [email protected].