Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is getting bigger, with the addition of 155 newly-protected acres of land in its Nanticoke Unit.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chesapeake Conservancy teamed up to create Blackwater’s first-ever perpetual conservation easements, which will ensure there’s no development on these protected lands.
the 113-acre Wells property and the 42-acre Wheatley property are now part of the wildlife refuge. The landowners still own the properties, but have sold the development rights. They can continue to use their lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities, and harvest timber in ways that benefit wildlife.
The protection will ensure that these properties remain valuable habitat for birds and other animals:
“These are the first easements within Blackwater in its history since the refuge was established in 1933. They harness the power of collaboration with both landowners and organizations such as Chesapeake Conservancy in order to conserve valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife along the Nanticoke, ranging from black and wood ducks to osprey and eagles,” said Marcia Pradines, complex manager for Chesapeake marshlands, which includes Blackwater.
Federal funds and a land conservation grant from Mt. Cuba Center paid for the easements.
“We are very grateful to these two families who chose conservation when making decisions about the future of their land,” Mt. Cuba Center President Ann Rose said. “It is inspiring to see how we can work together to provide land for our native plant species and habitat for Delmarva’s treasured wildlife.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano