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Bay Times & Record Observer: QACA celebrates golden anniversary
May 22, 2019
MILLINGTON — The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association celebrated 50 years of community outreach Wednesday, May 15, with a keynote address from former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening that focused on controlled expansion.
Festivities at Calico Fields farm also included citations by Comptroller Peter Franchot, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD.
The Eastern Shore’s oldest conservation organization works to promote “smart and sustainable growth that will ensure the protection of small towns, farms, waterways and open spaces” according to its mission.
“Part of the challenge is that our growth patterns have become a massive sprawl everywhere,” said Glendening. “What we need to focus on much more is maintaining the revitalization of our rural communities. We see what’s going on when we expand outward with roads and taking down trees. When we lose (ecosystems) like these, the whole planet suffers.”
The four-pronged approach to QACA’s work includes education and research, advocacy, protection, and archival research.
QACA develops and initiates efforts to assist public officials in their analysis of existing or proposed policies that impact the future of the county.
“The fundamental issue is deciding what we want for our future,” Glendening said. “We collectively made decisions that produced unsustainable growth patterns that we have today. If we did that by a series of decisions, then we can also make another series of decisions to lessen that.”
Most recently, QACA contributed testimony on the controversial K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons development on Kent Island as well as the South Kent Island Sewer line.
As for research, the organization says the most effective means of insuring a successful and sustainable community is an active and informed citizenry. When they believe the natural resources, cultural heritage and long-term economic stability of the county is being encroached upon, they work with a volunteer roster and coordinate grass roots campaigns to challenge such changes.
Since its inception, efforts to advocate for conservation initiatives have included preservation plans rooted in a stable economic future.
“This milestone could not have been done without a committed board of trustees, some which go back decades,” said Jay Falstad, QACA executive director, who hosted the celebration at his lavender farm. “Finding the balance between conservation and development is a constant struggle and right now there is an imbalance where too many natural resources are being consumed.”
Over the course of many years, the organization has collected data, documents, background materials, news articles and many other helpful pieces of information, regarding growth issues, environmental matters, legislation and a myriad of other topics.
What started in 1971 with a small group of concerned citizens has since grown into one of the Eastern Shore’s most socially active and arguably one of the most influential environmental organizations.
“Within an area of woods or a field, there is an ecosystem. Any time you take away any piece of that, you lose that and that’s what needs to be understood. Either by inspiration or desperation, we’re going to have to address the issue of land conservation,” Falstad said.
He also said a caring public was responsible for the success of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association.