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Getting into Nature’s Wide-Open Spaces

Calvert protects 100-plus more acres

Calvert County has a plan to get people back to nature. The county comprehensive plan sets 40,000 acres of prime forest and farm as its preservation goal.
    More than 28,000 acres is already preserved or protected. That total includes property protected by the county and state as well as land privately owned by American Chestnut Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy.
    Now the Calvert Nature Society has swelled the roll of land preservation groups, purchasing the 107 acres of forest, field and farm known as Keim Forest.
    “This property has important natural and cultural resources,” said Calvert Nature Society’s Anne Sundermann.
    Among the cultural resources are a century-old tobacco barn and farm home. Visitors, including dogs, are welcome.
    Keim Forest is valuable not only in itself but also in its connections. It bumps up to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, a rare feature in Maryland’s coastal plain. So this 100-plus acres adds protection to the northernmost stand of cypress on Maryland’s Western Shore.
    “It’s like a perfect puzzle piece on the map,” says Karyn Molines, Calvert’s chief of Natural Resources.
    Battle Creek Cypress Swamp’s 100 protected acres is owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed over a long-term lease by the county, which owns outright the 18 acres where the nature center sits.
    Calvert Nature Society stepped a bit out of its comfort zone to buy the buffer, under the stewardship of environmentalist Daniel ‘Tom’ Keim since the 1930s.
    “It’s rare to find such a large tract of wooded land, and we got a good price,” says Sundermann of the Society’s first-ever land purchase.
    That price was $435,000, paid for with an $80,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authorities and a $348,000 bridge loan from the Conservation Fund.
    “The loan,” Sundermann says, “gives us the time to fundraise for this time-sensitive project.”
    The campaign is beginning with the support of Congressman Steny Hoyer, who visited this month when Congress was in recess.
    “Responsible conservation of land in Calvert County must remain a top priority,” he said, when “President Trump’s extreme budget would severely cut funding to a wide range of programs used to support conservation and … protect public lands.”