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Greenprint mapping system to help open space preservation

Maryland has debuted a new Internet-based mapping system called Greenprint that identifies every parcel of land in the state, showing where open space has been preserved and where the state wants to acquire the most environmentally important land.

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the new mapping project— online at greenprint.maryland.gov. He also announced the acquisition for $70 million of 9,200 acres of forest and riverbank in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore as part of a more aggressive program to preserve the state’s most ecologically sensitive land.

The new interactive system is like a Google map and overlays satellite images and tax maps that will allow anyone in Maryland to answer the question, “Where’s my house?” said Kenny Miller of the Department of Natural Resources in rolling out the maps. Ultimately, it will allow residents “to see the bushes around your house.”

The new mapping system “puts more information in the hands of more people,” O’Malley said, and will help target how to “use precious conservation dollars.”

The mapping project is partially a response to objections that the state was buying open space and preserving forests and farmland as they came on the market, rather than identifying the most important parcels that would protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“Haphazard conservation is worse than haphazard development,” said Patrick Noonan, founder and chairman emeritus of the Conservation Fund.

“I’m anxious to get back home and take a look at my house,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who said the announcement of the land acquisition was as important as the talks on the bailout of the auto industry he was rushing back to Washington to attend.

Hoyer’s house in St. Mary’s County is 80 feet from the Patuxent River, he said.

Hoyer said the open space acquisition also helps preserve the security around two important Navy bases in Southern Maryland.