No new reg­u­la­tions will come to Mal­lows Bay

Land use to re­main the same, in­clud­ing recre­ational use

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

A de­ci­sion on Mal­lows Bay and how wide the area of the na­tional ma­rine sanc­tu­ary will be may not come from the Na­tional Oceanic At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion un­til 2018, but one thing is cer­tain — no sig­nif- icant land reg­u­la­tions will be put in place.

Sammy Or­lando, a re­gional co­or­di­na­tor for NOAA and a spokesman for the na­tional sanc­tu­ary pro­gram, said there will be very lit­tle reg­ula- tion of the land and wa- ter in the Nan­je­moy area near the bay — aside from re­spect­ing the his­toric ship­wrecks and sur­round­ing sig­nage.

Many peo­ple think re­source pro­tec­tion is about pre­vent­ing peo­ple from go­ing in cer­tain ar­eas, Or­lando said, but that is not al­ways the case.

“Re­source pro­tec­tion isn’t al­ways about reg­u­la­tion,” he said.

NOAA will use sig­nage when the des­ig­na­tion area for Mal­lows Bay is de­ter­mined, but will not heav­ily reg­u­late the area. It will all come down to two con­cepts, Or­lando said.

“Don’t take it, don’t break it,” he said. “And don’t get in the way of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ninety-nine per­cent of what we’re talk­ing about here is get­ting peo­ple on the wa­ter, build­ing out small busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and build­ing out rela- tion­ships that have al­ready been started while this des­ig­na­tion process has been go­ing on.”

All recre­ational uses of the land per­mit­ted be­fore will con­tinue to be per­mit­ted, Or­lando said. There will be noth­ing dif­fer­ent aside from signs. Ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing ar­chae­ol­ogy uses, will be al­lowed.

County Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) said the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and NOAA have been part­ners to Charles County “through ev­ery step of the way.”

“Three lev­els of gov- ern­ment can work to­gether for com­mu­nity good when we want to,” he said.

As of now, Robin­son said, the bay area is set to be named Mal­lows Bay Po­tomac Riv- er Sanc­tu­ary. But “I’d like to in­clude Charles County in there,” Robin­son said, for fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tion.

As it stands, NOAA’s pre­ferred al­ter­na­tive for the bay is a 52-squaremile area ex­tend­ing from Ben Doane Road in Mary­land to Benny Gray Point. The area in­cludes at least 100 known and po­ten­tial ship­wrecks, Or­lando said.

The area was ex­tended from 18 square miles to 52 be­cause of pub­lic com­ment re­quest­ing to pro­tect more ar­eas where ship­wrecks have been dis­cov­ered.

Robin­son said the county “will not be charg­ing” peo­ple to get into Mal- lows Bay. The goal is to get peo­ple to come to the sanc­tu­ary, he said, and re­quir­ing a fee would not help with that.

County Com­mis­sioner De­bra Davis (D) said NOAA has done good work with the bay and work­ing to­ward a sanc­tu­ary des­ig­na­tion, but did not know why the area was ex­tended.

“This is in my district, and th­ese peo­ple are go­ing to hold me ac­count- able,” she said.

Or­lando said the spe­cific ship­wrecks be­ing pro­tected in the 52-mile ra­dius area in­clude a U.S. Civil War barge or canal boat and up to 17 other ship­wrecks found or iden­ti­fied in records. It also in­cludes sig­nif­i­cant steam­boat land­ings, ferry cross­ings and Civil War bat­tlescapes with rem­nants of the river’s fish­ing in­dus­try.

He said the pre­ferred al­ter­na­tive can al­ways change with more pub­lic com­ment, but at the mo­ment NOAA be­lieves the 52-mile ra­dius area is the best fit.

Davis said she un­der­stood, but noted she would like to be more inthe-know when it comes to de­ci­sions on the bay.

“Just keep in touch,” she said.

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