100+ acre Big Pool farm preserved against redevelopment

20 June 2024- The Washington County Division of Planning & Zoning announces, on May 9, 2024, with funding from Washington County and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF), a 100.05-acre farm was preserved, adding to the more than 40,000 acres of permanently preserved land in the County.  

The easement was procured through a Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program (MALPP) easement that was sold on a farm on Gehr Road in Big Pool. The property is a large farm nearby historic Fort Frederick. The procurement of this easement has added to a block of thousands of acres of permanently preserved land in the area and will aide neighboring properties in their pursuit of permanent easements.   

MALPP is the County’s most prolific land preservation program, accounting for over 16,000 acres and 40% of the permanent easements in the County. It is funded and administered by the Maryland Dept. of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) and locally by the Land Preservation Office of the Washington County Department of Planning & Zoning. Each year, farm owners in the County have the ability to apply for this program which concentrates on preserving productive agricultural land in the County. This easement was part of the fiscal year 2023 cycle and was the fourth property of that cycle to settle an easement. Easement applications are submitted before July 1st of each year and offers are usually extended the following March.  

MALPP is just one of many programs that make up the Washington County Land Preservation strategy. Other programs include the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) Rural Legacy, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and Project Open Space Stateside programs, the County’s Installment Purchase Program (IPP), local forest conservation easements, the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) and Federal Scenic Easements, as well as easements through agencies like MARBIDCO, Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), Antietam Battlefield Trust (ABT), Mid-Maryland Land Trust (MMLT) and others. While the majority of funding is generally earmarked through State funding sources, in recent years, the County itself has taken significant additional financial steps to bolster its programs.