Fed­eral, state part­ner­ship con­serv­ing habi­tat for Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge

Dorchester Star - - REGIONAL -

CAM­BRIDGE — A part­ner­ship be­tween the United States Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy has led to the per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion of 155 acres of land as part of the Nan­ti­coke Unit of Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, a news re­lease states.

Fund­ing was made avail­able through the fed­eral Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund and through pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions from the Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy and from a Mt. Cuba Cen­ter grant. Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy and part­ners ad­vo­cate for fund­ing to be pri­or­i­tized for the Nan­ti­coke cor­ri­dor.

With sup­port from Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy, the United States Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice cre­ated perpetual con­ser­va­tion ease­ments adding the 113-acre Wells prop­erty and the 42acre Wheat­ley prop­erty to Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

“Th­ese are the first ease­ments within Black­wa­ter in its his­tory since the refuge was es­tab­lished in 1933,” Ch­e­sa­peake Marsh­lands Di­rec­tor Marcia Pradines said. “They har­ness the power of col­lab­o­ra­tion with both landown­ers and or­ga­ni­za­tions, such as Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy, in or­der to con­serve valu­able habi­tat for a va­ri­ety of wildlife along the Nan­ti­coke, rang­ing from black and wood ducks to osprey and ea­gles. We look for­ward to en­cour­ag­ing more ease­ments to pro­tect the re­sources of the Nan­ti­coke.”

Un­der con­ser­va­tion ease­ments, landown­ers re­tain their lands for a fee, but sell the de­vel­op­ment rights. Landown­ers can con­tinue to use their lands for hunt­ing, fish­ing, and other recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties and har­vest tim­ber in ways that ben­e­fit wildlife.

“Thanks to the fed­eral Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund, an im­por­tant ve­hi­cle for land con­ser­va­tion both na­tion­ally and within the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay wa­ter­shed, the United States Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice was able to join forces with Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy and Mt. Cuba Cen­ter to con­serve vi­tally im­por­tant wildlife habi­tat within the Ch­e­sa­peake’s crown jewel of Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge,” Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy Pres­i­dent and CEO Joel Dunn said. “Th­ese newly pro­tected acres com­ple­ment our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to con­ser­va­tion in the Nan­ti­coke River cor­ri­dor, where to­gether we have per­ma­nently pro­tected 15 prop­er­ties to­tal­ing 1,970 acres.”

In ad­di­tion to sup­port­ing the con­ser­va­tion mis­sion of Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, the forests, wet­lands and rare plants pro­tected by the ease­ments con­trib­ute to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Tar­geted Eco­log­i­cal Ar­eas. The ar­eas also con­trib­ute to the Audubon Nan­ti­coke Im­por­tant Bird Area and the net­work of pro­tected lands in the Nan­ti­coke and larger Ch­e­sa­peake wa­ter­shed.

The ease­ments also de­ter ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ment on The Nan­ti­coke River, and as­so­ci­ated wet­land habi­tats. Th­ese ar­eas are rec­og­nized for their na­tional sig­nif­i­cance to the North Amer­i­can Wa­ter­fowl Man­age­ment Plan and Na­tional Wet­lands Pri­or­ity Con­ser­va­tion Plan, the re­lease states.

“We are very grate­ful to th­ese two fam­i­lies who chose con­ser­va­tion when mak­ing de­ci­sions about the fu­ture of their land,” Mt. Cuba Cen­ter Pres­i­dent Ann Rose said. “It is in­spir­ing to see how we can work to­gether to pro­vide land for our na­tive plant species and habi­tat for Del­marva’s trea­sured wildlife.”

FILE PHOTO

The Wildlife Drive at­trac­tion at Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

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