Partnership Conserves Farmland in Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area

U.S. Navy, Maryland DNR, TNC, The Conservation Fund, Chesapeake Conservancy, & Mt. Cuba Center Partner to Conserve 233 Acres

Annapolis, MD – An innovative public-private partnership permanently protected 233 acres located in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area, conserving forests, productive farmland, and wetlands. This easement will also preserve a rural and open landscape under the airspace of the Atlantic Test Range where the U.S. Navy completes military aircraft drills. The area is also home to diverse wildlife where the Nanticoke River and associated wetland habitats are recognized for their national significance to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan.

Photo Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Program Caption: Conservation in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy area helps protect diverse native plants and wildlife such as the formerly endangered Delmarva fox squirrel.

In December 2018, the U.S. Navy and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, with transactional support from The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund, acquired a perpetual conservation easement on the 233-acre property. The land will remain in private ownership and will continue to be managed for farming and other resource-based activities, but the easement precludes future development or incompatible use of the property with conservation objectives of the Rural Legacy Area.

This conservation effort was made possible with funding from the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI), the Maryland Rural Legacy Program, and through private funds from the Chesapeake Conservancy through the support of Mt. Cuba Center.

Chesapeake Conservancy and partners advocate for state and private dollars to support conservation in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area as part of a broad scope of protection for the Nanticoke River and the communities it supports.

“For two decades the Rural Legacy Program has worked to conserve and maintain the rural character and countryside of our state, now and for future generations,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “With the strong support of Governor Larry Hogan, these thriving public-private partnerships allow local decision-makers to determine the best way to protect the landscapes that are critical to our economy, environment and quality of life.”

“It is always a privilege for The Nature Conservancy to work with the farm families in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area,” said Elizabeth Zucker, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “It is truly impressive how dedicated the landowners are to preserving their farms and the rural landscape for their families, and for the greater agricultural community. Easements like these will help preserve the unique beauty, ecology, and farming culture of the Eastern Shore for generations to come.”

“It is an honor to partner with the Chesapeake Conservancy on a project that advances REPI’s mission to protect our land, promote the livelihoods of hardworking Americans, and safeguard our nation’s defense. Maintaining working lands in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area will not only bolster local economic productivity, but also ensure that the Navy can continue to develop, test, and evaluate safe and effective aircraft for our nation’s service men and women,” said Kristin Thomasgard, director of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program

“This is a wonderful example of how a conservation solution can provide both economic and environmental benefits for wildlife and landowners, while helping to protect the mission of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Test Range,” said Bill Crouch, Maryland state director for The Conservation Fund. “We are especially grateful to the U.S. Congress for annually funding the REPI program which supports critical land protection efforts like this, and we thank U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Representatives Steny Hoyer and Andy Harris for their continued support for the program.”

“Thanks to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the US Navy and conservation partners for helping to bring together this important project for the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area,” said Chesapeake Conservancy Vice President and Director of Programs Susan Shingledecker. “The vision of programs like these help to preserve the rural character of this Chesapeake Bay tributary, and all of the benefits it provides to water quality, wildlife, and native plants. The commitment of landowners in the Nanticoke is an inspiring look to preserving these cultural and environmental qualities for future generations.”

“It is an honor to be a part of yet another conservation success story in the Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area. Every conserved acre makes a big impact on protecting Delmarva’s rich biodiversity,” Mt. Cuba Center President Ann Rose said.


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources manages the state’s public lands and waterways, including its forests, fisheries, parks and wildlife. Learn more at


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.  Learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s work in Washington DC and Maryland at and follow us @Nature_DCMDVA on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.


At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including more than 166,000 acres in Maryland. Visit for additional information.


Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, we helped create 153 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.


Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden located in Hockessin, Delaware. Over the past 80 years the gardens at Mt. Cuba Center have evolved, transforming fallow cornfields into thriving, ecologically-functional landscapes, thanks to the initiative of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland. The gardens are open from Wednesday-Sunday, April-November. Classes are offered year-round.

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