Easement on property owned by state delegate will protect Bear Creek
The Cumberland Times-News Wed Sep 21, 2011, 11:27 PM EDT
OAKLAND — The state Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved funding aimed at preserving hundreds of acres of Garrett County farmland through preservation easements. Those acres include land owned by Delegate Wendell Beitzel and his wife. Beitzel has always been a strong supporter of rural land preservation programs.
“I was a county commissioner when we started to get into the rural legacy program,” Beitzel said. He put one of his farms under a preservation easement years ago. Beitzel’s current 86.5 acres, which he bought some time ago from relatives, is in the Bear Creek watershed.
“Bear Creek flows right through the farm, about half fields and half woods. … Bear Creek is one of the best trout streams in the county,” Beitzel said.
All forest management on the property will be in accordance with a Forest Stewardship Plan, the primary objective of which is timber production in support of Maryland’s timber industry, state Department of Natural Resources officials said in a press release. The easements help “permanent forest buffer on 2,990 feet of Bear Creek and its tributaries and extinguish 28 development rights,” state officials said.
“This easement protects Bear Creek and its tributaries, which are natural trout streams regularly stocked by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and forestland, which is important interior-dwelling bird and black bear habitat,” said Chad Fike, Garrett County Rural Legacy administrator.
The grants will help continue an aggressive program of land preservation, said Fike.
“It allows us to preserve important farmland and woodland in the county,” Fike said. “They’re basically selling their development rights to the property,” Fike said. The programs and preservation process are actually pretty complicated, Fike said. The state board allocated the funding under two different programs aimed at rural preservation.
The owners can sell the land, but the easement remains on the property, preventing future owners from developing the property as well. The allocation for Beitzel’s land was $454,766. Before he began his application to the program, Beitzel cleared it with state ethics officials.
“Delegate Beitzel filed a Form B disclosure and Form D disclaimer with the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics relating to this acquisition. In a letter from that committee, dated July 20, 2011, Delegate Beitzel was informed that his disclosure and disclaimer fully satisfy the requirements set out by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics for a legislator who is participating in the Rural Legacy Program,” read the DNR press release.
The exact amounts paid for the easements may vary once the process is finalized. Other county landowners entering the preservation programs have amounts in the hundreds of thousands allocated as well. The Public Works Board approved $179,069 for an easement of 72 acres with a provision allowing a dwelling on the property; an allocation of $277,611 for a 95.4 acre property; and $146,746 for a 50-acre property.
The Bear Creek Rural Legacy Area totals 31,437 acres of which 5,774 (18.36 percent) are protected, state officials said.
Contact Matthew Bieniek at email@example.com
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