Baltimore County, Doing More With Less
Map by The Conservation Fund.
With one of the nation’s most established farmland preservation efforts, Baltimore County in 2006 reached a major milestone: preserving 40,000 acres of farmland, half its overall goal. But how would the County accomplish the rest, with limited funds? The Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management turned to us to help answer that question.
Working with a resource economist, Kent Messer, we used public input and mapping data to develop a computer model that “optimizes” conservation decisions based on costs, benefits, and goals. The model is specifically designed to assess purchases of conservation easements on agricultural lands, to ensure maximum return for investment.
Working with Dr. Messer, we completed the Baltimore County Land Preservation Model in 2006 and an accompanying Water Quality Assessment in 2007. The Model supports effective and efficient decision making in the County’s agricultural land preservation program and incorporates an array of criteria for easement purchase selection, including soil quality, property location, water quality benefits, and environmental factors. A critical component of this effort was the completion of a Water Quality Assessment that incorporated a farm’s contribution to the maintenance or enhancement of water quality into the County’s decision-making criteria.