Monday, November 06, 2006

Maryland Will Buy Blackwater Property

Waterfowl at Blackwater (USFWS)

For the past year, environmental groups on the Eastern Shore have been fighting a proposed development near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The development would have occupied 1,080 acres in the watershed of the Little Blackwater River. The site would have held a golf course, hotel and conference center, and 2700 homes. (See here and here for background.) Today Maryland announced that it will use conservation funds to purchase most of the land upon which the development would have been built.
The state will spend up to $10.4 million to buy 754 acres of about 1,080 acres of what is now mostly farmland. A developer, Duane Zentgraf, originally planned to build thousands of new homes plus a golf course and hotel on the land.

Today's agreement, subject to an appraisal and final state approval, leaves room for 675 homes, most of them for older adults only. A golf course, hotel and conference center originally planned have been scrapped.
The announcement represents a victory for conservation and smart growth advocates, and for the wildlife that depends upon the refuge and its surroundings for habitat.