County seeks state funding for watershed preservation

December 11, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county will apply for additional state funding to continue preservation efforts in the Little Pipe Creek watershed, a 35,000-acre area on Carroll's western edge.

The county commissioners approved yesterday a request by Philip J. Rovang, county planning director, to draft an application seeking funding through the state's Rural Legacy program. County officials have not determined how much Carroll would seek.

The $29 million program, part of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative, was created to protect land that might not qualify for other preservation programs. Property owners in selected areas may sell development rights to a land trust or local government to prevent development.

In June, the governor awarded Carroll County $1.5 million to protect 1,000 acres in the Little Pipe Creek watershed, west of Westminster. The county had asked the state for about $8 million to buy easements on 4,000 acres.

The state has asked that the money be used to purchase easements on the watershed's eastern edge near New Windsor, where development pressure is the greatest. The county had planned to give priority to areas on the watershed's western edge, where large blocks of farmland are available for preservation.

In addition to the state grant, Carroll County has set aside $1 million to protect land in the watershed area. The efforts in the Little Pipe Creek watershed are part of a larger land preservation TTC effort -- the county's goal is to protect 100,000 acres by 2020 through its Agriculture Preservation program.

Since it began the program in 1978, Carroll has preserved nearly 29,000 acres but is losing 1,800 acres a year to development. At current funding levels, it would take the county about 35 years to reach 100,000 acres.

To be considered for another state grant, Carroll County must apply to the Rural Legacy program by Jan. 30. Rovang said state officials would decide in June which areas would receive funding.

Pub Date: 12/11/98

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