The Biophilia Foundation
PO Box 1753
Easton, MD 21601
The Pritzlaff Ranch
HC 68, Box 11A
Sapello, New Mexico 87745
The work of the Biophilia Foundation is premised on the belief that only private landowners’ efforts to restore and protect natural resources, especially wildlife habitat, will recover the living resources of the degraded lands and watersheds of our country. While economically sound working lands are essential to our well being, so is the health and proper function of the natural systems upon which our economy and our existence is based. Preserving the status quo is not sufficient. We must work to change our private land management regimen so that we consider our impact on water quality and wildlife, and improve current conditions. Government agencies and regulators can improve water quality and manage core refuges, parks and open space. Only private landowners’ efforts will be able to buffer and connect these existing core areas to allow long term recovery and survival of our living resources and the ecosystems that also sustain us.
The first Biophilia project, and one of its largest, is the Pritzlaff Ranch. This 3,300 acre ranch, located just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, was purchased in 1934 by Richard Pritzlaff. After Mr. Pritzlaff passed away in 1997, his wish that the land and its natural resources would be restored and preserved was one of the reasons for the formation of the Biophilia Foundation. Since its formation the Foundation has purchased large parcels of land in Maryland and Virginia, successfully restoring and preserving wildlife habitat on privately owned farms on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and in Virginia helping to make more area contiguous with the Jefferson National Forest. These efforts have been successful due in large part to our collaboration with Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage (CWH). CWH is the only nonprofit conservation organization in the area working daily as a third party provider linking private landowners with under-utilized Farm Bill conservation programs. CWH designs and implements Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) projects that provide high quality wildlife habitats while paying landowners significant ground rents.
Two projects utilizing CREP which have been particularly successful as a result of the Foundation’s partnership with CWH are Riverbend Farm in Cambridge, Maryland, and Rash Farm in Queen Anne’s County. These projects demonstrate that landowners can manage their property for wildlife and water quality, maintain their farm income, and have a return on their investment. The CREP management plan at Riverbend Farm restored 80 acres of nontidal wetlands, established 40 acres of wooded buffers, and created 20 acres of warm season grasses, all at no cost to the landowner. Here you can see maps depicting Riverbend Farm before and after implementation of the CREP management plan. Similarly, the CREP management plan at Rash Farm restored a significant area of wildlife habitat: 120 acres, which should not have been ditched and drained for production in the first place, were taken out of crop production and restored back to wetlands, warm season grass meadows and buffers. These include 15 acres of Delmarva Bays, a unique and declining habitat type especially important to rare plants and amphibians. The financial benefit to the Rash family by allowing CWH and Biophilia to install and protect these practices was an increase in farm income while maintaining their best soils in agriculture. Please click here to see the CREP management plan implemented at Rash Farm.
The Biophilia Foundation also supports the efforts of other organizations that conserve and restore biodiversity. The Foundation has partnered with Defenders of Wildlife to create the Living Lands Project. This project seeks to improve the effectiveness of land trusts in restoring and protecting habitat on private agricultural and forest land nationwide, and to challenge land trusts to do more than simply protecting scenic and open space values. Our hope is that this land trust capacity building will enhance private landowners’ opportunities to participate in biodiversity conservation once they realize that such effort is ecologically effective and financially viable, and a much needed compliment to a working landscape. For a discussion of private land case studies which may be helpful to individuals and organizations interested in learning acquisition strategies and financing options for the creation of privately owned wildlife preserves, please click here to see the presentation entitled “Funding Opportunities for Biodiversity Projects” given by Richard Pritzlaff at the National Land Trust Rally. Other projects have been funded which will protect and expand habitat corridors, as well as defend threatened and endangered species from encroachment by economic and political interests hostile to their recovery.