March 7, 2014 -- One of the most prominently located historic farms in St. Mary's County, along Three Notch Road in Mechanicsville, has been preserved by Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust. In January, 2014, the Land Trust acquired a perpetual conservation easement on the 147-acre property, which is now owned by three siblings: John W. Roache, MD, Wanda Davina Valiante, and J. Barry Roache.
The farm is comprised of several parcels historically known as the Old Peverley (or Peverly) Farm or The Home Place, and Kelly's Luck, Fortune or the Combs Place. For over 150 years -- before there even was a village of Mechanicsville -- travelers on Three Notch Road have passed the distinctive gabled farmhouse surrounded by crop fields. The landmark structure, which dates back as far as 1835, is relatively intact. This weathered tenant farmhouse speaks silently, telling stories of a farm family's hard work, dedication to the land, and the joy of growing food for the community: stories that never change, and likely never will.
Now, thanks to the farm's current owners, the land itself will be perpetually preserved, so that it will forever remain a historic landscape.
"A lot of things came together to create this opportunity. It enabled us to obtain full ownership of the property and to project the farm into the future, and to protect the watershed at the same time. We're very grateful for the opportunity, quot; commented Barry Roache.
Produce from the Roaches' farm is sold at Home Grown Farm Market in Lexington Park. Barry Roache is a managing member of the Farm Market Board, and is involved in the County school system's "Farm to Schoolquot; program, which educates students about local farming and nutrition.
The farm, at the intersection of Three Notch and Flora Corner Roads, is a gateway to the Huntersville Rural Legacy Area, designated by St. Mary's County in 1998 as a large contiguous tract of important cultural and natural resource lands, with agricultural, forestry and environmental value. The Huntersville RLA extends to the Patuxent River, from Trent Hall Creek to Horse Landing, and comprises 8900 acres, of which more than 3700 acres have been protected. Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust partners with St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners to implement the Rural Legacy Area through various land preservation programs. Purchase of the Roache farm easement was funded with grants from the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission and the Rural Legacy Program of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
In addition to preserving an agricultural legacy the Roache property easement protects 100 acres of forest. The large contiguous woods protect the headwaters of the Persimmon Creek and are excellent nesting grounds for forest interior-dwelling birds that are increasingly vulnerable to loss of habitat.
Jan. 14, 2014 â€“-A 25-acre forested site in the environmentally critical McIntosh Run watershed has been permanently preserved thanks to Vivian Marek, who donated a conservation easement on the St Mary's County property to Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust in December 2013.
Vivian says she's loved the property on Newtowne Neck Road near Leonardtown ever since her parents bought it in the early 1950's. "I always wanted the place to remain as it was, especially after the development around it, quot; Vivian says. By donating a conservation easement to the land trusts, the Marek family's legacy will be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
The conservation easement permanently protects the site from being developed. Its woods of sweetgum, holly, oak and beech trees are threaded with small sand and gravel-bed streams, headwaters for the McIntosh Run tributary to the Breton Bay. Nearly 90% of the site is forested. Those acres of unbroken woods prevent erosion and protect water quality, and provide habitat for many species of forest interior-dwelling birds and other wildlife. From the road, the scenic views of the woods are reminders of the timeless value of St Mary's historic landscape.
The Marek preserve is especially important because of its location within the McIntosh Run watershed. "The McIntosh Run watershed is extraordinary in St Mary's County. Despite the region's continued development, it remains an ecologically intact watershed that protects water quality and provides habitat for rare aquatic and terrestrial species,quot; said Susan Charkes, Executive Director of Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust. PTLT has been working with Maryland Environmental Trust, as well as US Fish & Wildlife Service and Maryland's Wildlife & Heritage Service, to protect the watershed.
"We are enormously grateful to Vivian Marek for her generous donation of a conservation easement,quot; commented Charkes. "Many people don't realize that by donating a conservation easement to a land trust they can make sure that property they care about will stay beautiful forever.quot; A conservation easement on private land protects the land from development but the landowner retains control over it, and while the public benefits from its protection, there is no requirement that the landowner provide public access.
PTLT, a nonprofit, volunteer-supported organization, has protected over 4500 acres of natural areas and farmland in southern Maryland. "In many cases, the donation of an easement can also provide tax and financial benefits to the landowner, and those benefits can be augmented if the easement is also donated to the statewide Maryland Environmental Trust,quot; Charkes noted.
For more information about MET, please visit www.dnr.maryland.gov.
Art Exhibit Featuring Summerseat Farm Promotes PTLT
Summerseat Farm, a publicly accessible 120-acre working farm at Three Notch Road and Loveville Road in Mechanicsville, was preserved by a conservation easement donated to Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust.
Artists created works inspired by Summerseat Farm for this special exhibit.
The opening reception at the North End Gallery is First Friday, Jan. 3rd, from 5-8 pm. Wine, punch, and finger food will be served. It is open to the public.
North End Gallery, the oldest art gallery in St. Mary's County, is located just off the town square in Leonardtown.It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm and Sundays 12 pm until 4 pm, and on the first Friday of every month for a special reception from 5 to 8 pm.
More information and directions: North End Gallery, 301-475-3130.
PTLT's Executive Director honored by Maryland Environmental Trust
PTLT leads historic collaborative Southern Maryland conservation workshop
Jan. 24, 2013 -- It was an unprecedented day in the history of land protection in southern Maryland. Over 70 participants, representing entities in both public and private sectors, convened in one room to share land protection goals for the region and discuss how to advance conservation by working together.
As described in the National Park Service's 2013 Maryland News: "Capping several years of intensive conservation planning, Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust convened a 5-county, multi-partner collaborative conservation workshop; successfully braiding disparate preservation goals into a unified conservation network for the southern region of Maryland." The workshop, held on Dec. 5, 2012, at the College of Southern Maryland, grew out of a partnership between PTLT and the National Park Service, whose Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program helped PTLT initiate a strategic conservation plan.
Read more about both the workshop and PTLT's strategic conservation plan in the 2013 National Park Service Maryland News.
The collaborative workshop was supported by Regional Plan Association/America 2050, Maryland Environmental Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Abell Foundation, as well as the NPS. Trust for Public Land provided invaluable assistance in organizing the workshop. A map and brochure summarizing the shared conservation priorities of the participating agencies and organizations will be available soon.
PTLT partners with two other land trusts to preserve habitat along the Little Patuxent River
Oct 31, 2012 -- The District of Columbia has donated a conservation easement on 250 acres of woods and wetlands fronting along the Little Patuxent River, in Anne Arundel County. PTLT will co-hold the easement along with Maryland Environmental Trust and Scenic Rivers Land Trust. The easement protects vital habitat directly upstream of the 12,841-acre Patuxent Research Refuge.
"This was a great opportunity for a three-fold partnership among the statewide MET and two local land trusts to ensure a powerful combination of technical expertise, boots-on-the-ground fieldwork, and a commitment to perpetual protection of a property that has significant conservation and education value to the southern Maryland/metro DC region,quot; commented Susan Charkes, Esq., Executive Director, PTLT.
The easement donation settles a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative case involving underground storage tanks at Oak Hill, the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services facility in Laurel, MD.
A portion of the land trusts' costs related to the easement donation were supported by a matching grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program, which funds the protection of wetlands-associated migratory bird habitat.
PTLT to host 2d annual art auction, October 12, 2012
Join PTLT for an evening of light fare and beverages provided by local vendors, live music, and an auction of art by local artists. The proceeds will benefit PTLT's work in preserving land in southern Maryland.
The event will be held at the Historic State House in St Mary's City, MD, on October 12, 2012, from 6:30-9:30 PM. A donation of $20 is suggested at the door.
Art and music by: Christina Allen, Kevin Cofod, Jay Flemming, Jeannie Hammett, Frederick Meatyard.
Vendors: Kevin's Korner Kafe; Slack Vineyards.
Donations may also be made online here.
PTLT receives major grant to facilitate southern Maryland Land Preservation Planning Project
July 10, 2012 -- Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust has received an award to work with Trust for Public Land in facilitating a southern Maryland Strategic Conservation Plan under the Peer Exchange Program.
The program is supported by Regional Plan Association and America 2050, the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, and the National Park Service Northeast Area.
PTLT and TPL will host a collaborative workshop in Fall 2012 to help advance a landscape-level strategic conservation plan for St Mary's, Charles, Calvert, Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties.
Historic Summerseat Farm Preserved
January 24, 2012 -- Summerseat Farm, a historic, publicly accessible 120-acre working farm at Three Notch Road and Loveville Road in Mechanicsville, has now been preserved forever by a conservation easement donated to Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust.
"Summerseat Farm is a local treasure with a rich history dating to 1678. It's a beautiful, living example of the agricultural and natural heritage of southern Maryland. We're delighted to be preserving it for future generations,quot; said John Loftus, President of Summerseat Farm, Inc., the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that owns and maintains the property, and donated the easement.
With its gently rolling fields and dense woodlands that border well-traveled roads, Summerseat Farm is a scenic landmark. It is also the only farm in the region where the public is invited to observe a herd of American Bison. The early 20th-century Queen Anne-style manor house, a formal garden, and various agricultural structures including a tobacco barn, smokehouse and dairy, contribute to its beauty and historic character.
Since 2001, when the nonprofit organization purchased the property, Summerseat Farm has been operated as an educational working farm raising corn and grains as well as wine grapes and livestock: not only bison but also sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Trails wind through the 45 acres of woods that surround the 50 acres of farm fields. These woods provide habitat for forest-dwelling birds whose populations are declining throughout Maryland. The farm is adjacent to several other farms preserved through state and county easement programs, helping to develop a "green infrastructurequot; of protected lands.
"Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust is dedicated to preserving the rural landscape of southern Maryland,quot; Susan Charkes, Executive Director of PTLT said. "We're thrilled to work with Summerseat and our partner land trust, Maryland Environmental Trust, to preserve this property where people can get a first-hand experience of what a real farm is all about, and at the same time experience the beauty of nature.quot;
PTLT, based in Leonardtown, has preserved almost 4000 acres of farmland and natural areas in St Mary's County since 1998. "Land preservation is absolutely critical to protecting and improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed,quot; noted Charkes.
A portion of Summerseat Farm is in the watershed of the McIntosh Run, which empties into Breton Bay in Leonardtown. The McIntosh Run area is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse areas in Maryland, and contains many unique species and habitats. PTLT has partnered with Maryland Environmental Trust, the Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to help expand the protection of land in the watershed.
Maryland Environmental Trust is a statewide land trust that partners with local land trusts to permanently protect privately owned property with conservation easements. MET was established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly and is governed by a citizen board of trustees. MET has protected over 128,000 acres of scenic open space, forest and farm land statewide. "MET is pleased to be a partner with PTLT to help make this project happen,quot; said Elizabeth Buxton, Director of MET.
Summerseat voluntarily donated the conservation easement to the two land trusts. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit land trust, not to develop the property. It is binding on all future owners.
By donating a conservation easement, a property owner may be eligible for federal, state and local tax benefits. The easement doesn't restrict the owner's ability to sell the land and doesn't require public access. Summerseat, however, schedules regular opportunities throughout the year for the public to visit the farm.
The farm is operated entirely by volunteers. The nonprofit Summerseat organization is always looking for people who want to contribute their time and talents to this unique cultural institution.
Summerseat is also available for rental for events. The easement was carefully crafted to balance conservation goals with the organization's need to generate the funds necessary to maintain the property.
"Every conservation easement we enter into is unique to the property, because every property is unique. PTLT's mission is to preserve the past for the future, but we all live in the present. PTLT works hard to balance conservation goals and the goals of the landowner,quot; Charkes commented.
For more information about Summerseat please visit www.summerseat.org.
For more information about MET, please visit www.dnr.maryland.gov.
Thank you to Margaret Meringolo, retiring Board President
Margaret Meringolo, member of PTLT's Board and President for many years, has retired from the Board.
Margaret joined the PTLT Board in 2002. She took on the responsibility of Board President in December, 2003 and continued to serve in that role until November, 2011. In Margaret's 8 years of leadership, PTLT deepened not only its commitment to land preservation, steadily expanding the number of acres and properties protected by conservation easements, but also its dedication to excellence, building organizational strength and capacity as a professionally managed nonprofit land trust. An indomitable optimist, Margaret has infused PTLT with her upbeat personality and her forward-thinking creative outlook. As a warm and gracious hostess and incomparable chef, she made sure that PTLT meetings were not only business events but also delightful social occasions. We are extremely grateful to Margaret for her many generous years of service to PTLT. (Dec. 23, 2011)
Fundraising Event October 21 Will Feature Auction of Works by Local Artists
Join PTLT October 21, 2011, from 7-9 PM at the State House in historic St Mary's City, as we showcase the work of local artists including Jay Flemming, Mary Ada Candella, Mary Lou Troutman, Patti Runco, Jeanne Hammett, Carrol Wathen, and Christina Allen. The artists have generously donated works that will be auctioned to support PTLT.
Light appetizers and beverages will be provided. No registration is required.
Thanks to Thompson Seafood Market for their generous donation of the food for this event!
Join us on June 12th at the 24th Annual Patuxent River Wade-In!
On Sunday June 12, 2011, join former Senator Bernie Fowler and many others, in the 24th annual Patuxent River Wade-in, 1:00PM to 4:00PM, at Jefferson Patterson Park in St Leonard.
Bernie started the "white sneaker" test as a means of checking water clarity, 24 years ago. In 2010, the "sneaker index" measured 34.5 inches. What will it be in 2011?
All ages are welcome to test the water. Wear your sneakers!
There will be environmental demonstrations, exhibits and activities. PTLT will be at the event. Learn more about how we are working to save land in southern Maryland, and why land preservation is essential to help clean up the Patuxent.
For additional information on the Wade-In, call 410-586-8501 or email email@example.com.
PTLT profiled in SoMdNews story on preserving land, June 3, 2011
A June 3, 2011 Southern Maryland News profile of land trusts in southern Maryland featured PTLT's accomplishemnts in preserving natural and agricultural land. Read the full story, which discusses PTLT's work as well as Conservancy for Charles County, American Chestnut Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust.
U.S. Department Of The Interior's National Park Service To Provide Support To Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust For "Southern Maryland Strategic Conservation Plan"
January 24, 2011â€” Embarking on a major initiative to conserve southern Maryland's natural resources, open space and rural landscape, Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust (PTLT) has received recognition from U.S Dept. of the Interior's National Park Service Northeast Region's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA). RTCA has just announced that it will provide project support for the "Southern Maryland Strategic Conservation Plan.quot; The Project will produce a green infrastructure-based strategic conservation plan that advances the conservation objectives of PTLT and its partners at the federal, state and local levels. Project Manager Wink Hastings of the National Park Service has begun developing a work plan for the coming year.
The Project will produce a regional strategic conservation plan that connects hubs of natural resources and agricultural open space into a continuous "greenquot; network that supports resilient, diverse ecosystems and working rural landscapes. It will link together existing plans, including those of counties, state agencies and local land trusts. The resulting plan will enable PTLT and other organizations to prioritize land conservation so that available funding resources are applied most effectively.
"We're excited to be partnering with the National Park Service to help us facilitate a region-wide plan," says Susan Charkes, Executive Director of PTLT. "There is growing federal support for increasing land conservation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, to protect high priority land and maintain water quality, which are critical to halting the watershed's decline and restoring its health. By putting various conservation plans into a regional context, the project will help make the efforts of not only PTLT but also other southern Maryland conservation organizations more effective. "
In his letter to PTLT, David Lange, Manager of Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program said, "The National Park Service RTCA Program is eager to be a strong partner with you and help you to achieve the goals identified in your application to us. Our mission is to implement the natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission of the National Park Service in communities across America. We look forward to our partnership and to future on-the-ground results which improve our region by building trails, caring for improving community connections to open space and outdoor recreation."
Other participants in the project will include the planning agencies of St Mary's, Calvert, Charles, Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties; Maryland Environmental Trust; University of Maryland, Department of Geography; State of Maryland, Dept. of Natural Resources, Office of Sustainability and Dept of Land Planning and Acquisition; Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission; Defenders of Wildlife; Patuxent Research Refuge; and local land trusts.