In 2002, using the land preservation tools uniquely available to the Bay Ridge Trust (recently renamed Bay Land Trust) and the BRCA’s singular authority to represent the community in making long-term commitments, Bay Ridge residents purchased the Bay Ridge Woods and saved it from development.
We all gave a sigh of relief.
But the effort isn’t over. Now the community must care for what has been protected.
THE CONSERVATION EASEMENT
The vehicle for protecting the land is a Conservation Easement, a legal document granted to a land trust that runs with the land forever.
The land is owned by the community and the conservation easement is co-held by the Maryland Environmental Trust and the Bay Land Trust, which purchased, and then extinguished, the development rights.
The Conservation Easement also describes the responsibilities of the landowner for being proactive in managing the property to ensure the health of the forest and preserve the conservation values protected by the preservation agreement.
Specifically, a Forest Stewardship Plan was required to be prepared by a qualified forester and approved by the Bay Land Trust.
In fact, there are two conservation easements, similar yet with an important distinction.
While the BRCA and the Bay Land Trust share a common goal for maintaining the health of the Bay Ridge Forest, we each have a different role in achieving it. The Bay Land Trust is responsible for monitoring the property each year to ensure that the terms of the easement are met.
We, as the landowners, are responsible for managing our woods, ensuring that our property boundaries are recognized and countering encroachments.
By granting these easements we, as a community, are committed to “preserve and protect
the environment of the Property and to maintain permanently the open-space values and the dominant scenic, historic, cultural, woodland and wetland character of the Property.”