Maryland DNR has posted the following information:
In a first for the state of Maryland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on October 5 declared its intent to designate Mallows Bay in Charles County as a National Marine Sanctuary, and is seeking public input on how the site should best be used and managed.
Located in Nanjemoy, an area of the Potomac River, Mallows Bay features a host of archaeological, recreational, historical, cultural, educational and environmental qualities, and is home to one of the largest assemblages of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay, this collection totals nearly 200 vessels dating back to the Revolutionary War and World War II.
“The state of Maryland and its partners in this effort are thrilled that such a multipurpose and unique site on the Chesapeake Bay is on its way to becoming a National Marine Sanctuary,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Mark Belton said. “We believe that the designation serves as a tremendous opportunity to promote our state’s world-class recreational fishing, boating and tourism, to advance our efforts to protect and restore the bay watershed, and to educate the public about our nation’s maritime and cultural history. This was and continues to be a community-driven process.”
“The Maryland State Historic Preservation Office has long been seeking the best means of managing the important and diverse cultural resources in and around Mallows Bay,” State Historical Preservation Officer Elizabeth Hughes said. “Cognizant of the role these resources have come to play in the environment, both as a haven for natural resources and from a recreational perspective, the opportunity to build partnerships throughout the Maryland community and with NOAA has provided a timely and elegant means to ensure an appropriate and comprehensive approach to their long term management.”
DNR’s Chesapeake and Coastal Service, the Maryland Historical Trust, Charles County and a number of other partners submitted the Mallows Bay nomination to NOAA in September 2014. In early 2015, the nomination became the first to be successfully added to the inventory of areas considered for designation. The next phase of the process will include a public feedback period that may last up to two years. Feedback will be used to help create a draft plan for the site.
Partners will host public input meetings in:
- Charles County on Nov. 4, 2015, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Charles County Government Building Auditorium: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata; and
- Anne Arundel County on Nov. 10, 2015 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Annapolis Maritime Museum: 723 Second Street, Annapolis.
Comments may also be submitted online at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/mallows-bay and are due by Jan. 15, 2016.
“A National Marine Sanctuary designation for Mallows Bay would focus well deserved national attention on this Charles County treasure,” Charles County Commissioner President Peter F. Murphy said. “We have worked hard to promote public access to the site and to conserve its significant historic and natural resources. This esteemed recognition would stimulate those efforts and afford us the opportunity to share its beauty and historical significance with the nation.”
The National Marine Sanctuary System was established in 1972 to recognize and promote the conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research or aesthetic values of special areas of the marine environment. The existing network is comprised of 14 sites totaling more than 170,000 square miles. They all serve as natural classrooms and laboratories for school children and researchers alike to promote stewardship of our marine resources.
Photo by Daryl Byrd.