Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mallows Bay Sanctuary Under Fire for Expansion

Mallows Bay wreck 
"Why so much?" for Mallows Bay
It appears as if the next national marine sanctuary is going right here in Southern Maryland. And it’s a big deal.

There are only 13 sanctuaries and two marine monuments, and many hope this designation and the much-hoped-for visitor’s center and science labs will bring jobs and tourism to the western part of Charles County.

Over the past three years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and various partners in the public and private sector have been working closely together to come up with a mutually-agreeable plan since the original nomination was submitted in 2014.
 We've seen Mallows Bay before here. It's a place where a huge number of unwanted wooden ships were taken and scuttled in 1925. One of the places in the Bay I haven't been to, and should visit.
 When the sanctuary status was originally proposed, the community was overwhelmingly supportive.

The nomination included three parks — Mallows Bay, Purse State Park along the Potomac and Widewater State Park in Virginia. Known now as “Alternative B,” it covered 18 square miles with six miles of shoreline.

Sammy Orlando, an official from NOAA’s Chesapeake office in Annapolis, said that during the comment period from December 2015 to January 2016, many Marylanders recommended expanding the area to include all the known shipwrecks and adding more access points for kayak launches.

And therein is where the problem lies.

Now NOAA’s preferred option has almost tripled in size, to 52 square miles and 14 miles of shoreline, referred to as “Alternative C,” which does contain all the known shipwrecks in the Potomac and adds Caledon State Park in Virginia.

There’s even a super-sized version, “Alternative D,” which contains 100 square miles and 68 miles of shoreline. It is this option that elicited the most outcry at the meeting.

Indeed, many people expressed that they had supported the original plan and felt like they were now the victims of a “bait and switch.”

Yes, it looks like a water grab now. From a smallish region around Mallows Bay, it is now a large part of the tidal Potomac River? Will they use it to try to exert Federal control over recreational and commercial fishing and recreational boating in the area? Probably not initially, but later? Yeah, probably.

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