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Mal­lows Bay: A place of his­tory, fun and ad­ven­ture

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1658, Charles County is con­tin­u­ally cre­at­ing its mark on our na­tion’s his­tory through notable fig­ures, land­marks and mon­u­men­tal past events. One of these land­marks is Mal­lows Bay, home to the “Ghost Fleet,” the largest ship grave­yard in the Western Hemi­sphere.

Mal­lows Bay ship­wrecks, which rep­re­sent Amer­i­can con­flicts dat­ing back to the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War through World War I, have be­come a sanc­tu­ary for a wide va­ri­ety of wildlife species. Mal­lows Bay Park fea­tures wildlife and ship­wreck view­ing ar­eas with a per­ma­nent te­le­scope, fish­ing, boat­ing, kayak ac­cess and a hik­ing trail.

Vis­i­tors can en­joy the scenic view of the bay’s wa­ter­scape dot­ted with tiny is­lands and scat­tered re­mains rep­re­sent­ing cen­turies of Amer­i­can his­tory. Across the bot­tom of Mal­lows Bay and the Po­tomac River are the re­mains of more than 100 wooden steam ships built be­tween 1917 and 1919 for the World War I United States Emer­gency Fleet. Pad­dlers are ad­vised to use cau­tion when ex­plor­ing due to the di­verse ship­wreck de­bris hid­den un­der the wa­ter’s sur­face. The park, lo­cated at 1440 Wil­son Land­ing Road, Nan­je­moy, is open to the pub­lic daily, year-round from 5:30 a.m. to dusk.

In or­der to fur­ther pre­serve this unique site, in Oc­to­ber 2015, the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA) de­clared its in­tent to des­ig­nate Mal­lows Bay as a Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ary. A Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ary pro­vides a safe habi­tat for species close to ex­tinc­tion and pro­tects his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant ship­wrecks. Rang­ing in size, each sanc­tu­ary site is a unique place re­quir­ing spe­cial pro­tec­tions. The Mal­lows Bay des­ig­na­tion is a first for the state of Mary­land and Ch­e­sa­peake wa­ter­shed; the des­ig­na­tion will attract tourists from around the globe and pro­mote county eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

If you would like to get in­volved, the sanc­tu­ary process in­cludes pub­lic in­put. NOAA will hold a pub­lic scop­ing meet­ing on Tues­day, March 7, at the Charles County Gov­ern­ment Build­ing (200 Bal­ti­more St., La Plata) from 6 to 9 p.m. This meet­ing is an op­por­tu­nity to re­view and com­ment on the sanc­tu­ary pro­posal. Your in­put will as­sist NOAA in moving for­ward with the des­ig­na­tion process. In­for­ma­tion on sub­mit­ting writ­ten com­ments is avail­able on­line at sanc­tu­ar­ies.noaa.gov/mal­lows-bay. Writ­ten com­ments must be re­ceived by March 31.

Mal­lows Bay will be fea­tured in an up­com­ing spe­cial event, The Dis­cover Quest: World War I Com­mem­o­ra­tion Week­end, on April 21-23. The event hon­ors the 100th an­niver­sary of World War I. This is a great op­por­tu­nity to learn more about the site while hav­ing fun. En­joy an art ex­hibit from Charles County Pub­lic Schools stu­dents, take a kayak tour and par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­ac­tive pro­grams. Dis­cover all that Mal­lows Bay has to of­fer. For more in­for­ma­tion about the event, go to www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/Dis­cov­erQuest.

For more in­for­ma­tion about up­com­ing tourism events and at­trac­tions, go to www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/Tourism. Whether it’s his­toric land­marks or events for the whole fam­ily, our tourism di­vi­sion is bring­ing dis­cov­ery and ad­ven­ture to you. Eileen Min­nick is the di­rec­tor of the De­part­ment of Re­cre­ation, Parks, and Tourism for Charles County Gov­ern­ment.

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