WCD would pro­tect na­ture

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Charles County is at a ma­jor cross­roads right now con­cern­ing the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion dis­trict. The de­ci­sions made now will have last­ing im­pli­ca­tions, and there are no easy an­swers.

If the WCD stands, prop­erty own­ers in des­ig­nated ar­eas of Charles County will be vastly re­stricted in how they can use their pri­vate prop­erty. A valid ar­gu­ment is that the WCD zon­ing man­date is un­just, dis­crim­i­na­tory, dic­ta­to­rial and maybe even un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Be that as it may, if no plan is in place to pro­tect what’s left of the ru­ral and pris­tine parts of the county, ev­ery one of us will lose an ex­tra­or­di­nary trea­sure.

If the WCD is in­val­i­dated, I en­vi­sion adult chil­dren and grand­chil­dren sell­ing the prop­erty of their fore­bears to the high­est bid­ders. I see hous­ing, roads, traf­fic lights, gas sta­tions, shop­ping cen­ters and schools where forests and farms once were. I see wildlife habi­tats bull­dozed and dy­ing breeds of crea­tures great and small. I see traf­fic con­ges­tion, lower water ta­bles, pol­luted creeks, streams and wa­ter­ways flow­ing into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, an es­tu­ary that once teamed with life. With an in­flux of pop­u­la­tion, I see more crime, as well as higher taxes on all Charles coun­tians to sus­tain the mas­sive growth.

It may take two or three decades, give or take, but with­out en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions in place, it’s in­evitable that Charles County will lose its dis­tinct ru­ral char­ac­ter, south­ern charm and the nat­u­ral beauty and bill of health that clean air and water pro­vide.

When pri­vate prop­erty rights and mon­eyed in­ter­ests com­pete against en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, sadly, the lat­ter rarely wins. Mother Na­ture re­mains con­sis­tently pa­tient and life-sus­tain­ing up to a point. But like the most in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble, she does not have a voice and can­not ad­vo­cate on her own be­half. Some­one must speak for her.

Ber­nadette Smith, Wel­come

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