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Easement Programs and Applications

Landowners can choose from a variety of easement programs that depend on factors such as land use, location and whether it is a donation or easement sale. Program information, eligibility and application forms are provided below.

Learn how to apply for an easement program.

Maryland Agricultural Land Protection Foundation (MALPF)

This program is a cooperative with the State and County and is the main Agricultural Land Easement Program in the County. Owners of farmland in the County should first review this program before considering the other options listed below. To be eligible, the farm has to meet specific criteria for size, soil and location. Applications are on an annual basis with a July 1 deadline. Applications forms are available on the MALPF website.

Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Program

Created in 1994 to preserve working family farms, the Baltimore County program has used innovative and collaborative funding mechanisms for land preservation. To be eligible, a farm must be at least 20 acres if contiguous to a preserved farm, be located in the Agricultural Preservation Protection Areas and meet certain soil criteria. Applications are on an annual basis.

Imminently Threatened Farm Preservation Program

The purpose of the imminently threatened farm preservation program is to protect high quality land that is in  imminent threat of conversion such as transition of farm operation within the family, financial difficulties that jeopardize the farm operation and imminent development. Applications can be made at any time to Baltimore County.

Federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) 

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations (such as land trusts) protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. For information on how to apply, go to the USDA website: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/easements/acep/

Rural Legacy Program

Created in 1997 by the Maryland General Assembly, this program seeks to set aside large blocks of rural lands for the protection of natural and scenic resources and the fostering of rural industries such as agriculture and forestry. Baltimore County adopted and also funds the Rural Legacy Program.

In addition to purchasing easements on farmland, this program emphasizes the protection of lands that are forested, have stream valleys or are along the shoreline. State approved Rural Legacy areas in Baltimore County include Coastal, Gunpowder, Long Green, Manor, and Piney Run. Individual Rural Legacy areas are administered by local land trusts.

For general program information, contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. For specific information, contact the Rural Legacy area sponsors listed below:

Maryland Environmental Trust (MET)

Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1967 to protect Maryland's natural environment, the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) seeks donated easements on farms and forestlands, wildlife habitats, waterfront acreages, natural areas, historic sites and other valuable and scenic features. Although both MET and local land trusts prefer to accept donations on lands greater than 50 acres, local land trusts may be willing to work with smaller property owners.

Donations are accepted all year. Landowners may qualify for a significant tax deduction or credit. MET also provides loans to qualified groups for the purchase of land for preservation. For more information, contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Local Land Trusts

Working with MET, another option is to donate or sell an easement to a local land trust. While a local land trust may not provide any state tax benefits, land owners may still be eligible for federal tax benefits. In addition, individual land trusts are a good source of information on preservation options.

County Land Trusts:

Revised August 14, 2014

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