ACLT Acquires Historic Yoe Farm

By Michaila Shahan

On June 6, the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT), along with Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) added the last piece of the puzzle by purchasing the largest unprotected land left in the Parkers Creek watershed. The property, a 156-acre historic farm located near Prince Frederick, has passed from over a century of agriculture within the Yoe family into a future of endless preservation.

ACLT hopes to connect this new addition to their other properties as well as monitor perhaps its most significant feature, Farr Creek, the longest tributary into Parkers Creek.

Located on the western shore of the Bay, Parkers Creek Watershed Nature Preserve, established in 1986, is a success story in the world of conservation. Boasting 20 miles of hiking trails through 3,000 acres of permanently protected woodlands, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says testing “indicates that it is one of the healthiest streams on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.”

“The unique ecology of its nearly pristine wetlands and forests supports an array of rare, threatened and endangered species, as well as some of our favorite wildlife such as beavers, bald eagles and otters. Parkers Creek has been called the Chesapeake Bay in miniature,” DNR states.

Thanks to its protection by ACLT and the DNR, the preserved land has maintained much of the originality of its marsh landscape, unobstructed by human development. ACLT Executive Director Greg Bowen says, “it’s a place throughout our community that people can observe and experience wild land; that wild lands exist.”

Bowen says that ACLT has been working to form a “square box” of protection around the watershed for over 35 years. “The Yoe property forms the last corner in the box” he said.

With the addition of the Yoe farm property, it will now be possible to monitor and practice water testing in in the creek that runs through the territory, the longest tributary that adjoins Parkers Creek. The new tract will also provide ACLT with more space to expand and connect the public hiking trails which run through the other properties. “The bones are there,” says Bowen. “In five to ten years, we will be able to hike from the Yoe property to Saint John Vianney, east to the Bay overlook, south to the south side trailhead.”

“A lot of folks come here to experience nature,” he says. “They say ‘I can go to this place and walk hours for hours, and never retrace my steps’. The Parkers Creek Preserve is becoming that.”

Bowen is excited for the public to be able to experience the special landscape within the property. “There’s a stair-step of meadows that rises up to a point on the eastern end of the property. It really is beautiful.”