Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works to preserve, protect, restore, and enhance the environment for current and future generations. In support of civilian-military compatible use in Maryland, DNR provides grants and programs that local governments and community organizations can consider for areas surrounding military installations as they work to further their land preservation goals. DNR plays a key supporting role in implementing many of the recommendations of the
2019 Statewide Joint Land Use Response Implementation Strategy to facilitate community and military compatibility.
In addition, DNR is one of seven state agencies that take part in the review of
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) applications for permitting approval of utility-scale renewable energy projects (along with the Department of Planning, Maryland Energy Administration, Department of the Environment, Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce). DNR is also a part of the
Federal Offshore Siting Process for Renewable Energy projects. Compatible permitting and siting of renewable energy projects are key to maintaining and protecting the military mission and operational areas in the state.
Compatibility Factors relevant to the Department of Natural Resources: Biological Resources, Marine Environments, Scarce Natural Resources, Threatened and Endangered Species
Relevant Programs and Plans
Forest Legacy Program is a federal program administered by the U.S Forest Service that works in partnership with
states in order to protect environmentally sensitive forests from clearing or conversion to development. According to
the Forest Legacy Program, the program is designed to "identify and protect environmentally important forest lands
through the use of perpetual conservation easements purchased at market value between willing sellers and willing buyers."
Up to 75% of the funding for the easements can be provided by the federal government. The other 25% will come from state,
local, or a non-governmental organization. Easements can also be donated by the landowner. It is important to note that
this program is only available in areas that have been identified as
Forest Legacy Areas.
If the land in question is located in an area the military is looking to protect in order to preserve military operations,
this program presents a unique opportunity for landowners who meet the Forest Legacy Program criteria to receive compensation
for an easement by working with the U.S. Forest Service, DoD, and DNR while furthering a community's land preservation
Program Open Space Stateside continues the state's commitment to conserving natural resources and providing outdoor
recreational opportunities. Using fee-simple and easement acquisitions, the program preserves natural areas for public
recreation and watershed and wildlife protection. A
targeting system using ecological priorities is used to maximize available state funding and support program decisions.
Additional funding is used to acquire other land based on recreational, cultural, historical, educational, water access
and resource-based economic characteristics. This program could support civilian-military compatible use by preserving
lands located outside military installations and/or in military operational areas in the state of critical importance
to the DoD where incompatible development would threaten the viability of those areas.
An example of Program Open Space utilization can be found in Harford County. Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) worked with
Harford County government to facilitate the purchase of Belle Vue Farm, a 347-acre property in Havre de Grace that has
historically been a source of noise complaints from activities at APG. APG used the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB)
program to reach out to preservation partners to identify mutual objectives of land preservation and to prevent the development
of this rich historic, natural, and cultural resource. The ultimate acquisition and transaction costs were co-funded
by Program Open Space, Harford County government, and the Harford Land Trust. The property is permanently preserved through
a Program Open Space conservation easement with the state and has restrictions imposed on it by APG through the ACUB
Learn more about the acquisition of Belle Vue Farm.
According to DNR, the
Rural Legacy Program "provides funding to preserve large, contiguous tracts of land and to enhance natural
resource, agricultural, forestry, and environmental protection, while supporting a sustainable land base for natural
resource-based industries." Public-private partnerships are created between
land trusts and local governments where participating partners are encouraged to work together to determine how
to best protect their vital working landscapes. A partnership could, for example, request that ecologically significant
properties (such as a working farm) be designated as a
Rural Legacy Area.
The Rural Legacy Program is administered by the Rural Legacy Board, which includes the Secretaries of DNR, Planning, and
the Department of Agriculture. The Board seeks assistance and advice from an Advisory Committee and annually designates
Rural Legacy Areas and recommends areas for funding. A Rural Legacy Area designation gives land trusts and local governments
an opportunity to competitively apply for state funds to complement existing land conservation efforts or create new
ones, including funds to facilitate the purchase of conservation easements from willing landowners. The Rural Legacy
Program is another tool that communities can use to support military-civilian compatible land use by protecting landscapes
immediately surrounding military installations.
Southern Maryland's Mattapany Rural Legacy Area exemplifies how local governments, states, and federal entities can work
together to achieve and further land preservation goals in conjunction with military neighbors. Learn more about this
valuable partnership and how the DoD is involved in the
Mattapany Rural Legacy Area Case Study.
Heritage Conservation Fund is established under
Natural Resources Code Ann. § 5-1501 (2020) to acquire conservation easements in natural areas that are habitats
for rare species or are unique natural communities. The fund also provides financial support to administer other programs
geared toward achieving land preservation goals. Appropriations for the fund may be provided by special bonds or general
state funds and conservation easements. Using this fund must also be approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works.
The use of Heritage Conservation Funds presents another land preservation opportunity for the state and defense communities
to protect land immediately surrounding military installations if fund criteria are met.
Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) works with landowners, land trusts, and communities to protect land and natural
resources through tools, direct assistance, and information. MET's
Land Trust Assistance Program encourages collaborative partnerships to achieve conserving open space, farmland,
and other natural and historic areas, and works to increase organizational capacity of local land trusts to support the
diversity of conservation. The program offers technical assistance, workshop, and training opportunities to provide local
land trusts the chance to grow their organization and be competitive throughout the grant process.
MET's work with local land trusts and governmental partners can be applied to land preservation activities surrounding
military installations. For instance, a local land trust could use the program's technical assistance to acquire grant
funding that could support a request for state and/or federal funds to preserve land of significance to the DoD.
DNR created the
Chesapeake and Coastal Grants Gateway (Grants Gateway) as a one-stop resource to assist government, non-governmental
organizations, and academic institutions with the grant application process. The Grants Gateway is available for projects
that foster resilient ecosystems, communities, and economies and contains technical and financial support for these project
types. Grants are made possible from numerous state and federal sources, including the
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund,
EPA, and the
Resiliency Through Restoration Initiative, among other organizations. The Grants Gateway could be used by defense
communities as they continue to think about projects and actions to increase resilience to climate impacts and other
Watershed Assistance Grant Program represents a partnership between DNR, MDE, and the
Chesapeake Bay Trust. Financial support is provided through the program for the design and permitting of watershed
restoration projects, including planning and development activities. The goal of the grant program is to fund projects
that improve water quality in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay and Youghiogheny watersheds, and the Maryland
Coastal Bays. By providing funds early in such projects, the program can assist local governments and nonprofit organizations
to prepare watershed restoration projects for project implementation. Defense communities located in the project eligible
areas could utilize the Watershed Assistance Grant Program in support of resiliency planning projects designed to achieve
their environmental resiliency goals and protect the resiliency of the installation from coastal threats.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the
Critical Area Act in 1984. It is a comprehensive program to protect the Bay's natural resources, Maryland's
Atlantic coastal bays, and tidal shorelines. The program's regulations require that all development within 1,000
feet of tidal wetlands and tidal waters be defined as Critical Areas and thus meet specific provisions, including setbacks
from the water, limits on lot coverage, and forest and tree clearing.
State law requires local jurisdictions to develop and adopt their own Critical Area Programs, based on the State Critical
Area Act criteria. Additionally, the Critical Area Act requires that local jurisdictions identify and provide for the
establishment, preservation, and maintenance of a protective buffer around aquatic resources within program-defined Critical
Areas. The buffer must be at least 100 feet wide and naturally vegetated to provide a filter and critical shoreline habitat
for native plants and wildlife.
Where installations and Critical Areas abut, local jurisdictions are encouraged to consider land conservation strategies
to achieve Critical Area Act goals and further joint- resiliency planning strategies to ensure continuity of military
For more information, check out Bay Smart, the Citizen's Guide to Maryland's Critical Area Program, or refer
to your jurisdiction's Critical Area Program.