In early January, the Harford Land Trust completed its purchase of a small but environmentally important 5.25-acre tract of land from William J. Rodgers of Murrieta, California. Tucked away in the far northern reaches of Harford County, the property has most recently been used for hunting and fishing by Mr. Rodgers and his Annapolis friend, Roger Donegan. It is one of the most unusual properties we have ever acquired.
To start, the property is really two parcels; one so small and located a good distance from the other that we didn't get to see it until recently. Just as negotiations began, the county closed Green Road for a bridge replacement project, so it blocked our access. We had to have a county engineer walk the property for us in the performance of due diligence. Close to the Baltimore County line, the property was accidently given a Baldwin, Baltimore County address, but it lies between Greens Crossroads and Norrisville in Harford County. Another oddity is that we never met or spoke to William Rodgers; the entire transaction was handled by his friend, and now ours, Roger Donegan.
The "larger" parcel, all of 4.89 acres, is breathtaking! Deer Creek flows through it for almost 1,000 feet. The bank on the northern side of the creek is lined with massive boulders fringed with ferns and wildflowers, while the southern side is prone to flooding and home to wetland plants and a healthy salamander population. This parcel lies within the Maryland designated Sensitive Species Project Research Area and buffers the Parker Conservation Area, owned by Harford County Parks and Recreation.
Getting to the property is a bit of a challenge and half the fun of a site visit. While on paper, there is an access road, it hasn't been built. The picture of former board member Stephanie Stone wading through Deer Creek reveals the only way to get to the southern side. A death-defying climb and descent on an over-grown logging road will bring you out to the north side, but Stephanie's route is preferable.
The property has a fascinating history beginning with the purchase of 236 acres by Edward Treadway from Williams Billingsley in 1815. Over the years, the land size grew and diminished, with land being added and sold with deaths, marriages, disputes and debt collection. An article will appear in our next newsletter on the intriguing past of this property and the area as revealed in following the deeds through the years.
Why the interest in this small property?
This property is in a concentration of land preserved by The Manor Conservancy (State Rural Legacy Program), Harford County Agricultural Preservation Program, Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, and by Harford County Parks and Recreation. Our acquisition implements several objectives of the Deer Creek Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) by providing public access to a natural area, fostering clean air and water, the protection of sensitive species, a place for quiet contemplation, and by promoting sensitivity to watershed awareness and stewardship.
This small but mighty property containsmature woods, steep slopes, Forest Interior Dwelling bird and other wildlife habitat, and it is transected by Deer Creek with its associated non-tidal wetlands. It lies within a Sensitive Species Project Research Area and it shares a boundary with the Harford County's Parker Conservation Area. The 156-acre Parker Conservation Area has a fascinating history which Lindley E. Parker donated "as a gift to the people of Harford County for their use, benefit and enjoyment" and "the administering public body [Parks and Recreation] shall insure its preservation for all time in its present natural wild state". The Trust hopes that its little parcel will inspire others in the area to preserve their properties and to help expand the contiguous natural state of the region.
How was the Rodgers Property funded?
By our friends, sponsors, and members!
All funds for this $30,000 acquisition came from our Johnston Hegeman Land Fund which was established specifically for projects like this that meet our mission and standards for public benefit but do not qualify because of size for any state or county easement or acquisition programs. We hope our members are very proud in the part they have played in our latest preservation accomplishment.