Over 300 acres of Dorchester Co. land added to Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area
DORCHESTER COUNTY, Md. – Just over 300 acres of land in Dorchester County are now under protected status. The area was where abolitionist Harriet Tubman spent the early part of her life. This was made possible by work between The Conservation Fund, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Navy.
Maryland State Director for The Conservation Fund, Bill Crouch, says the properties within the Harriet Tubman Rural Legacy Area fall beneath U.S. Navy airspace. “The Patuxent River Naval Air Station is located on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. Dorchester County falls entirely within the Atlantic Test Range, which is the area that the Navy uses to fly jets and do their testing,” he said.
Old Meets New
The properties are now protected by conservation easements. They will remain under private ownership. At the same time, land development that could put its environmental and cultural significance at risk, will be limited. “Dorchester County, Maryland is a county that possesses tremendous national significance as the childhood home of Harriet Tubman,” said Crouch.
Crouch says, this is a win-win situation for Tubman’s legacy, and the Navy’s ability to keep United States citizens safe. “The landscape in large part is still reflective of the landscape that Harriet would have seen in her day. That being said, it becomes the perfect setting to tell Harriet’s story,” he said. “By limiting development, not only are we protecting the historic landscape, we are also protecting the Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s mission by limiting incompatible use on that land.”
The land protection also has another potential benefit, according to Crouch. “The tourism activity that takes place as a result of the telling of Harriet Tubman’s story is a real economic driver. Via land protection, we’re able to protect that economic engine, if you will,” he said.
Preserving History, Jetting Into The Future
The land is just the latest addition to a larger area of conserved space. It stretches across more than 28,000 acres in the county. The state awarded The Conservation Fund roughly $2 million towards conservation easements within the Rural Legacy Area. Crouch says adding onto the existing protected space, is just one more step towards preserving the memory of Tubman’s heroic actions. “Harriet’s story today has as much meaning as its ever has. We still have so much to learn,” he said.