No new regulations will come to Mallows Bay
Land use to remain the same, including recreational use
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.