200 Baltimore Street
La Plata, MD 20646
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Land Preservation Programs
Charles County has a goal to preserve 50% of the land area, or approximately 147,000 acres, in open space. The County’s goals for agricultural land preservation and natural resource conservation are described in the 2017 Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan.
Several options are available for property owners to permanently preserve their land in open space for future generations. Most programs offer tax reductions or payments for preservation and are often specific to the intended use of the property as agricultural land or forest land. Under these programs, the land typically remains in the current ownership with a preservation agreement recorded in Maryland Land Records. However, there are some cases where the land is purchased by, or donated to, an entity for preservation.
Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area
Home to the largest natural hardwood swamp in Maryland and encompassing numerous historic sites and scenic vistas, the Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area consists of 30,000 acres and was established in 1998 to protect the areas unique environmental, agricultural, and cultural resources. To date, over 4000 acres have been permanently protected though the voluntary purchase of conservation easements worth over 18 million dollars. In 2020 Charles County applied to expand the Rural Legacy area to encompass the Cobb Neck region.
Nanjemoy-Mattawoman Rural Legacy Area
In 2020-21 Charles County will coordinate with the State of Maryland to establish a new Nanjemoy-Mattawoman Rural Legacy Area in western Charles County.
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1977. The Foundation purchases agricultural preservation easements throughout the State that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland. More than 10,000 acres have been preserved through the MALPF program in Charles County to date. Interested land owners should contact Planning Staff to learn more and to complete an application.
Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act Tier Area Designations
Senate Bill 236, passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2012, was enacted to limit the impacts of large subdivisions, served by individual septic systems, on farm and forest land, streams, rivers and Chesapeake and Coastal Bays.
There are four growth tiers of land use categories that identify where major and minor residential subdivisions may be located and what type of sewerage system may serve them.