Annual Conservation Easement Monitoring Season in Full Swing

Conservation easement on SERC’s Contee Farm protects mature forest, historic farmland, and spectacular view

In late October, Scenic Rivers’ stewardship volunteer and Board President Joan Renner joined members of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) staff for an annual conservation easement monitoring visit.

As a nationally accredited land trust, Scenic Rivers is required to visit every property under easement annually.  Most monitoring visits happen in the fall or toward the end of the year when leaves are off trees and visibility is best. Monitoring visits are our opportunity to track what is happening on the land, ensure all activities conform to the requirements of the easement, and identify potential issues before they advance. These site visits and accompanying reports are a critical component of our commitment to the properties under easement with Scenic Rivers and ensure that we maintain regular, consistent communication with landowners.

The Contee Farm portion of the SERC campus, which has both ecological and historical value, is coheld in a conservation easement by Scenic Rivers and Maryland Environmental Trust. At 579 acres, the SERC property is the second largest easement in Scenic Rivers’ conservation portfolio. And, with its acres of protected meadows, forest, and wetlands along the shores of the Rhode River, it is home to one of the most spectacular views in the county.

Public access is a condition of the easement which means the campus’ walking trails are open to the public most days of the year. Currently, the walking trails are closed on weekends for annual forest maintenance, but they remain open on weekdays and are expected to reopen on weekends in mid-January. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to check out Jeff Holland’s recent article in The Capital which describes his hike to Hog “Island” and details all of the improvements SERC made to the trails while the campus was closed to the public due to the pandemic.

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