American Chestnut Land Trust
   Connecting people with the land

History of ACLT

The American Chestnut Land Trust, established in 1986, was at the forefront of a new grassroots land conservation movement, as reported in November 1988, by National Geographic magazine:

The beginning of ACLT. Photograph by Eric L. Williams, National Geographic Staff.

Photograph by Eric L. Williams, National Geographic Staff

"Citizens Join Together to Save Their Environment

When residents of Scientists Cliffs, Maryland, heard that forests and abandoned farms surrounding their homes were to be sold, possibly to developers, they bought the land. A tract of 436 wooded acres near the Chesapeake Bay became the American Chestnut Land Trust."

~ National Geographic Magazine

ACLT's charter members named their fledgling organization after a one-time giant of the eastern United States hardwood forest, the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) because the Maryland State Champion surviving American Chestnut tree resided on the 436-acre "Gravatt" property which was the ACLT's first acquisition.

These individuals hoped that by preserving this small piece of forest, they could preserve something of the "scenic, natural and historic" sites in Calvert County from the tremendous development pressure of nearby Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

In the 20 years since its founding, the ACLT has greatly expanded its land preservation vision beyond the initial property. In the 1990's the land trust partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The land trust agreed to undertake the long-term management of any properties acquired by The Nature Conservancy, and later, by the state. At the present time, ACLT directly manages just under 3,000 acres in the Parkers Creek and adjacent Governors Run watersheds. Over 4,000 acres, in total, have been preserved in these two watersheds since ACLT was founded in 1986.

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