Partnership Adds Easement Acreage to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

USFWS, Chesapeake Conservancy, and Mt. Cuba Center Add 27 Acres to National Wildlife Refuge

Annapolis, Md. – A partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Chesapeake Conservancy has resulted in an additional 27 acres of forested habitat added to the Nanticoke Unit of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge through the acquisition of a conservation easement. The easement was purchased using private funds secured by the Chesapeake Conservancy from the Mt. Cuba Center and adds to the 155 acres that were added to the Refuge in 2018. The conservation easement prevents development of the property while allowing the landowner to continue to own the land. As a result, the landowners can continue to use their land for recreation such as hunting, and timber harvest. In addition to supporting the goals of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan of the Refuge, the easement ensures the protection of additional habitat in Maryland Department of Natural Resources Targeted Ecological Areas, the Audubon Nanticoke Important Bird Area, and the internationally recognized RAMSAR significant wetlands. This project also builds upon the impressive network of protected lands within the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape, a partnership program between the Department of Defense, Department of Interior, and US Department of Agriculture to facilitate the collective interests of the agencies to accelerate the pace and scale of preserving open space for their respective missions. “Mt. Cuba Center has been an incredible partner in our work to conserve land along the Nanticoke River, one of the most pristine rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  These 27 acres are a piece of a much larger puzzle of protected land that will protect wildlife habitat, maintain water quality and preserve our Chesapeake way-of-life. Through a collaborative network of partners that includes nonprofits, federal and state agencies and local governments, we have created a model for landscape scale conservation that can be replicated around the country,” said Joel Dunn, Chesapeake Conservancy’s president and CEO. “Mt. Cuba Center prioritizes opportunities to conserve large landscapes in the region especially those as important to ecological diversity as the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Ann Rose, Mt. Cuba Center’s president.

Photo of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge by Kelsey Everett

“Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a local and national treasure for both the local community and visitors from across the country. Landowners can take pride in creating a legacy of conservation by enrolling in a conservation easement that allows them to retain and access the land, while helping conserve the unique and valuable ecological features of the Nanticoke,” said Marcia Pradines, the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex Project Leader. “We appreciate the partners that help make conservation happen on the ground for we cannot and should not do it all alone.”


With paths that take visitors from the formal gardens of a du Pont mansion through stunning vistas, intimate woodlands, and lush meadows, Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden that puts the beauty of native landscapes on display to inspire conservation. What began in the 1930s as the private estate of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland is now a public garden that centers the beauty and value of native plants. In addition to cultivating the public garden’s formal and naturalistic landscapes, Mt. Cuba Center staff conduct research, connect guests to the natural world and teach students about native plant horticulture. Mt. Cuba Center has supported the conservation of over 12,000 acres in the mid-Atlantic region. Gardens are open for general admission Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am-4 pm through November 24th. Classes are offered year-round. Learn more at

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at or follow us on Facebook @BlackwaterNWR.

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.