Grant will help expand Deer Creek preservation

September 24, 2006|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,sun reporter

A $2 million state grant will help Harford County preserve more farmland along Deer Creek and the Susquehanna River and ultimately protect the Chesapeake Bay.

"It is the most we have ever received in any one year and brings to $7 million the amount we have received from Rural Legacy," said William D. Amoss, manager of the county's agricultural preservation program. "We could hypothetically add 200 more acres and fill in a lot of blanks on our preservation map."

The state awarded more than $26 million last week to preservation projects across Maryland, including Harford's Lower Deer Creek valley. The Rural Legacy program, established nearly a decade ago, is one of several state programs that provide money to protect tracts of contiguous land from sprawl and steer development to established communities.

"We have to use the money within a year, but that should not be a problem," Amoss said.

The county has permanently safeguarded from development nearly half the 40,000 acres in the Deer Creek valley, a farming area along the river that flows from southern Pennsylvania into the Susquehanna, Amoss said. Deer Creek is a source of drinking water for Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Farmers who participate in the Rural Legacy program are required to plant trees, grasses and shrubbery along the shorelines to protect waterways.

"You want a good amount of tree cover," Amoss said. "The more forested buffers, the more habitats you will have and the cleaner the bay will be."

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