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Keeping Maryland’s Public Lands Public
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2006

Protect Them by Voting Yes on Question 1

To ensure that Maryland’s natural treasures and open space have the protection they deserve, the Sierra Club urges that you vote YES on Question 1, the land-conservation ballot question, on November 7.

Maryland was once the national leader and role model on planning and land conservation. However, since the inauguration of the Ehrlich administration four years ago, our state has slipped in the opposite direction. While funding for premier state programs, such as Program Open Space, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, and Rural Legacy Program, was siphoned off for unrelated purposes, state officials started proceedings to sell off state-owned forests and park land.

In 2004, Governor Robert Ehrlich’s administration attempted to sell off 836 acres of environmentally sensitive state-owned lands in Southern Maryland to a politically-connected private developer. Public uproar led to investigation and subsequent reports by The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, exposing the administration’s intentions to sell off multiple holdings of state-owned open space land for private development, including:

215 acres of Rocks State Park—protected land around Kilgore Falls (Maryland’s second highest waterfall), which was saved by the efforts of concerned Harford County students;1 Horn Point—–840 acres of university-owned property on the Choptank River of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which The Washington Post called “an ecological gem”;2 and 584 acres that form a buffer zone around Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County.3

All told, records from the Department of Natural Resources identified almost 3,000 acres of state-owned lands that could be sold.

We believe these steps to siphon off open-space protection funds for other purposes and put protected state lands on the auction block occurred, in part, because of inadequate laws to protect our state owned conservation lands. However, on November 7, 2006, we can take action to ensure Maryland precious “protected” state lands are really protected.

 

Amendment Offers Hope

The 2004 proposed sales of state-owned conservation land prompted bipartisan action by the General Assembly. Specifically, legislators placed a constitutional amendment on the ballot for November 2006 that would provide greater protection—not to mention accountability and transparency—on any efforts to sell off Maryland’s precious open space. It does so by requiring the General Assembly to approve the sale or transfer of lands purchased for conservation. If passed, this measure would ultimately protect farms, parks, and open spaces for future generations.

 

Urgent Action Needed!

     Contact your public officials, and tell them you want them to do more to identify and protect Maryland’s remaining undeveloped open-space lands.

     Join the Sierra Club’s efforts to protect Maryland’s parks and open spaces. Visit www.maryland.sierraclub.org, or call 301-277-7111.   

 

1  Editorial, The Washington Post, “Shady Dealing,” November 16, 2004, p A24.

2  Matthew Mosk, “Ehrlich Planning To Sell Off More Land, Discussions Continue On Thousands of Acres,” The Washington Post, November 13, 2004, p B01.

3 David Nitkin and Rona Kobell, “Portions of Parks Slated for Sale,” The Baltimore Sun, November 13, 2004.

> 2006 Table of Contents

   
   

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