AmericanFarm.com

ESLC holding urban sprawl at bay (Editorial)

(May 12, 2015) Anticipating, surely, what the future would bring to the Eastern Shore of Maryland — and indeed the entire Delmarva Peninsula — about a quarter-century ago, a non-profit known as the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy emerged from discussions of those determined to preserve their cherished way of life.
Today, 25 years later — and even as the long-anticipated barrage of residential and commercial development continues — the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy can boast a record of success that surprises even Rob Etgen, the ESLC executive director.
As ESLC was forming, Etgen recalled, “I never imagined that we could preserve over 300 beautiful Eastern Shore farms and natural areas, that we could stop a $1.4 billion mega-transmission line planned to cross the Blackwater marsh in Dorchester County, or that we could revitalize our cherished small towns by acquiring parks and repurposing dead industrial buildings. ... But we have.”
The ESLC record of achievement includes preserving 57,000 acres on 301 properties.
It has helped towns including East New Market, Cambridge, and Easton create plans for green spaces.
It partnered with the Cambridge Gateways project on Maryland Avenue, which is under construction now.
East New Market has a new park in the center of town that originally was slated for development.
And ESLC recently helped Cambridge purchase a parcel behind the old Phillips Packing Company. It will become a park in just about the most geographic center of the city.
Perhaps most importantly, ESLC this spring hosted a conference exploring the future of agriculture on the Eastern Shore.
The conclusion: The present is secure and the future is bright.
In a letter unveiling a new fund appeal, Etgen issued a blanket “thanks to long term and steady donations from generous supporters (which) has taken the Eastern Shore off the path toward becoming another forgettable patch of Mid-Atlantic sprawl — and put this region on the path towards remaining a unique Chesapeake landscape with protected countryside,vibrant towns, thriving farms and forests, and a prosperous future for our children.”
In the midst of all of this, ESLC will move its headquarters from the campus of the University of Maryland Wye Research and Education Center to Easton early this fall.
It will set up shop on Washington Street in a remodeled building which once housed the inveterate McCord’s Dry Cleaning business.(That’s a nice touch of non-land conservancy.)
We applaud, most certainly, ESLC’s impressive record over its first 25 years and are counting on it keeping an eye on thngs for another quarter century.
There is no doubt that it will have plenty to keep it busy.