HLT’s 2017—2022 Strategic Plan called for us to strategically pursue land preservation projects that meet our land preservation criteria. Of course, we cannot, and should not, protect “everything.” It is paramount that our land preservation efforts are sharply focused on the most critical and vulnerable resources to ensure our efforts have the greatest positive impact.
Thanks to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Land and Water Initiative, a project of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and the Land Trust Alliance, we were able to try something new further this goal. In late 2017, HLT engaged the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center to develop a Harford County strategic land preservation prioritization map based on HLT’s land preservation criteria.
Over many months, HLT staff worked with the Conservancy to identify data sets and assign weights that best reflected HLT’s criteria and evaluation process for prospective land preservation projects.
Each parcel larger than five acres in Harford County was assessed against over 20 datasets. The highest priority was assigned to three overarching criteria:
- ·Wildlife and biodiversity (e.g., ecologically sensitive areas, habitat)
- ·Productive farmland (e.g., soil quality)
- ·Water quality (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, marshland and streams, steep slopes, floodplains, green infrastructure)