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Maryland’s String of Pearls

Seven additions in AACo makes 56 properties in permanent preservation
Watercolor painting “Jug Bay Serenade” by Rebecca Wallace Pugh
     You can’t protect the water if you can’t protect the land.
     Light bulb or lightening bolt, that realization led Dick Lahn, of Crofton, to the capstone achievement of a lifetime of environmental campaigns. 
     Lahn’s personal success is a still bigger deal for environmental protection. He has linked 56 environmentally significant Maryland land parcels on both shores in a network of permanent preservation.
     Lahn calls that chain a string of pearls.
     This month, the string grew by seven pearls, all in Anne Arundel County.
     The largest is Anne Arundel County’s Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, 1,700 acres including the Sanctuary proper, Parris Glendening Nature Preserve, Patuxent Wetland Park, Nature Preserve at Waysons Corner and Shepherd Property.
     Six landowners thickened the strand with their farms, all in the Jug Bay area of the Patuxent River. They are Don and Lucy Arthur’s Welch/ Shepherd Farm; Jennifer and Richard Wade’s Lower White Oak Farm; Janet Owens’ White Oak Farm; William Lusby’s Brickhead’s Chance Farm; Virginia and Al Tucker’s Ole Neff Farm; and Dorothy and Ken Horky’s Weisbacker Farm.
     Each year, pearl landowners are honored at a reception. On that day, September 7 this year, plein air artists paint landscapes of each property.
     “The preservation forever of 2,350 acres of public and private lands in the Jug Bay area of south Anne Arundel County is an amazing accomplishment, four decades to achieve, which protects the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay Watersheds,” Lahn said.
     Landowners retain ownership of their pearls, which are preserved through conservation easements that trade development rights for property tax and state income tax credits up to $5,000 each year for a maximum of 15 years. Lahn’s String of Pearls Foundation does not write easement contracts but does work as a resource to connect landowners to local land trusts, the Maryland Environmental Trust and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
     The reach of String of Pearls extends to Virginia, where pearls will be registered at a celebration and landowners honored in Great Falls on November 16. Pearls will be registered in Pennsylvania in 2018.