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Photo by Harford Land Trust

43-acres of forest near Emmorton protected

August 4, 2021

Forty-three acres of forest at the southern end of Patterson Mill Road near Emmorton are now permanently protected. Thanks to the generosity of Edward Pitts, 87, his wife, and children, the property will always be an oasis in the heart of Harford County’s Development Envelope.

“Everyone in my family, all of my six offspring, are just so delighted that their heritage will result in this beautiful piece of property being protected for perpetuity.”

Edward Pitts
Photo by Harford Land Trust

The Pitts family donated a permanent conservation easement to the Harford Land Trust and the Maryland Environmental Trust in July 2021. This method of land protection is different than the more well-known programs in Harford County in that no money changes hands. Donated conservation easements are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a form of public charitable gift.

“I really always loved Bel Air, and I thought to myself, here is this land, it’s right in the middle of the action, it’s our way of just quietly thanking Bel Air for all the years that we have lived there.”

Edward Pitts

Pitts first contacted Harford Land Trust in the summer of 2019. Over the course of two years, the land trust worked with Pitts and his family to realize his vision of permanently protecting the forested land along Bynum Run.

The property hugs the waterway for about a third of a mile along the one-way section of Patterson Mill Road near the intersection with Wheel Road. The mixed hardwood forest and small tributary stream provides habitat for local wildlife, absorbs excess nutrients from stormwater runoff, and sequesters tons of carbon annually. The forest also safeguards against accelerated streambank erosion and threats to aquatic species in Bynum Run.

The land was previously farmed and void of trees when Pitts purchased the property in 1976. He reminisced, “I spent the next 40 years going through the woods and cutting the pernicious things. We would prune around the ash and oak saplings and as a result, over the years, we have speeded up plant succession quite considerably and the land has gone back to its original condition after having been a farm. It’s been a long proposition for us, and my family has been invested in that land both as labor and enjoyment for a great many years.”

The protection of the forest eliminates the potential for up to 200 homes on the property. The property will remain privately owned without public access.

“Conservation donations, like the Pitts’, are an expression of love for the land and the people that will come after us. Harford Land Trust is honored to have played a part in this generous gift to Harford County.”

HLT Executive Director Kristin Kirkwood

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