Land Preservation Tool Kit

Citizens across Maryland frequently observe a new or ongoing threat to their forests and other natural areas. Often their neighboring woods or stream is being destroyed. The Sierra Club receives inquiries as to what citizens can do to stop or reduce the destruction of their favorite woods, meadows, wetlands or creeks. The Sierra Club Land Preservation Tool Kit has been prepared to provide citizens with a wide variety of tools that have successfully assisted us across the state. The regional examples and case histories are models of comparable programs across the state of Maryland. For instance, examples are provided for Transfer Development Rights in Montgomery, Charles and Calvert Counties. These can vary in effectiveness across the state. One of the most successful approaches has been to save an area before it is owned by developers (see Programs to Avoid Development, below). One of the most common and unnecessary causes of transfer of natural areas to development has been lack of awareness that there are many ways to reduce property taxes to affordable levels. This is particularly important when descendants receive land their parents wanted to preserve but have difficulty in paying the inheritance and property taxes. After developers own the land, natural areas recognized for their high quality have been purchased by organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Lands as well as the State of Maryland through Program Open Space. We have more successfully reduced (see below), rather than stopped, the impact of development elsewhere. When citizens investigate actual adherence to regulations they greatly increase compliance with the law. A dramatic example has been citizens reporting inadequate placement of silt fences to prevent sediment from entering our waterways. Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) officials typically investigate in a few hours and the developer corrects the problem the same day. Threats to natural areas not being developed (see below) include deforestation, water and air pollution, erosion, stormwater damage, sedimentation, invasion by non-native invasive species such as kudzu. Programs to avoid development include Conservation Easements, Program Open Space, Forest Conservation Plans, Transfer Development Rights, The Conservation Reserve Program, Establish and Maintain Greenways to Avoid Fragmentation, and Survey and Assessment tools including Endangered Species and Rare Habitat Surveys and Wetland Surveys in compliance with sections 404 and 401 of the Clean Water Act, Compliance with NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permits, and Smart Growth (including Zoning regulations and Smart growth alternatives to new highways). Part I: Programs to Avoid Development Conservation Easements Program Open Space Forest Stewardship Plans Transfer Development Rights Conservation Reserve Program Survey and Assessment tools Endangered species and rare habitat surveys Wetland Surveys Compliance with sections 404 and 401 of the Clean Water Act Compliance with NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permits Establish and Maintain Greenways to Avoid Fragmentation Smart growth regulations Zoning regulations Smart growth alternatives to new highways Part II: Programs to reduce impact of development Alternatives to Litigation LID Low Impact Development Stormwater retention regulations Part III: Threats to natural areas not being developed Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council program (FSC) Non-native invasive species control Erosion and sediment control Respond effectively to damage caused by off-road vehicles Respond effectively to damage caused by deer browse Conservation Easements Program Open Space Forest Stewardship Plans Endangered Species Tool Kit Wetland Surveys Greenways Prevent Fragmentation Alternatives to Litigation Forest Stewardship Council Certification Non-native Invasive Species Control