Palmer State Park

Scott McDaniel

A heavily wooded, rocky, steep-sided land beside a beautiful stretch of Deer Creek.

In 1994, the Harford Land Trust’s fourth major project protected land around Deer Creek, expanding Palmer State Park.

We are used to seeing the lower stretch of Deer Creek as a lazy stream meandering through gentle hills of hardwoods with an occasional view of houses or roads until it reaches the Susquehanna River. Near the U.S. Route 1 crossing of Deer Creek and adjacent to the 500-acre Palmer State Park, the Stifler family owned 34-acres of heavily wooded, rocky, steep-sided land beside a beautiful stretch of fast water. Although Deer Creek is not like the legendary whitewater Youghiogheny, it is one of Maryland’s official Scenic Rivers.

F. Royston Stifler Sr. acquired this land in 1939 to enjoy with his family and friends in its undisturbed state. Beginning in early 1991, Harford Land Trust carried out laborious but enjoyable negotiations with Mr. Stifler’s daughters and son: Ann S. Pearce, Kathryn S. Boniface, and F. Royston Stifler Jr. There are no major structures on the property.

The owners no longer lived local to the property and had reached an age where they wished to see this land permanently protected from development so that all could continue to enjoy its natural beauty. They also wished to honor the memory of their father who revered its natural beauty and its historical significance as the site of an early American forge.

With a grant of $75,000 from Maryland’s Program Open Space, Harford Land Trust purchased the 34-acre property for $150,000. Although Harford Land Trust’s independent appraisal estimated a Fair Market Value of $250,000, the owners agreed to sell it to Harford Land Trust if it would be kept essentially as it is. The organization used its own funds to supply the other $75,000 needed, out of its Land Conservation Fund built from donations and net-proceeds of the Forest Greens Lake Preserve and Kilgore Falls projects.

In 1995, the Trust sold the Stifler Conservation Area to the state of Maryland to be integrated as part of Palmer State Park. A plaque was later erected on the site, commemerating the late Royston Stifler’s love of the area and its natural values.

Photo by Shawn Slater

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