Easement Creates Corridor of Protected Land

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) closed on a 339-acre conservation easement owned by the Jones Family in Dorchester County. Nestled between two existing ESLC easements and an expansive Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) easement, this final stretch of forest creates a 4,000-acre corridor of protected lands. As he looks forward to sharing the natural beauty of these woodlands with many future generations, avid wildlife manager Ben Jones is delighted “to know that when we’re not around it’s going to be the way it is or better than we left it.”

The Jones’s woodland property falls within the Southeastern Forest Legacy Area, identified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a forest of high economic, environmental, and societal importance. Once threatened by fragmentation and conversion, the property is now protected for perpetuity, safeguarding habitat for Delmarva fox squirrels, deer, groundhogs, foxes, and forest interior dwelling bird species like tanagers, ovenbirds, and pine warblers. The easement’s silt-loam soil anchors abundant pine responsibly managed through a forest stewardship plan.

Located within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, the new easement provides an essential buffer for the Transquaking River, a 23-mile-long Chesapeake Bay tributary left notoriously vulnerable to nutrient pollution. In addition to aiding in Maryland’s clean water goals, large woodlands provide a number of services to the entire surrounding community and ecosystem. The forest will help to prevent flooding and soil erosion, sequester carbon, prevent light pollution, and shelter wildlife including the property’s recent abundance of wild turkeys.

If one large tree provides four people a one-day supply of oxygen, then this easement provides clean air and safe breathing for the Jones’s entire community and beyond. “We have a number of farms and every one of them has been put in preservation,” noted Ben’s father Skip Jones. “Everything we’ve ever done, every land we’ve ever bought, we’ve put into preservation. Our heart is in the soil.”

ESLC is grateful to the Jones family, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy for their technical and financial support of this project. To learn more about conservation easement programs contact ESLC’s director of land conservation, David Satterfield, at dsatterfield@eslc.org.

For more information, visit www.eslc.org.

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