NOAA Announcement Applauded
Another Step Closer to Creating a National Marine Sanctuary at Mallows Bay – Potomac River
Public Meetings Announced
Nanjemoy, MD – Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a Notice of Intent to initiate a full public procedure and Environmental Impact Statement concerning the designation of Mallows Bay as a new National Marine Sanctuary. Mallows Bay, located on the Potomac River in Charles County, MD, is home to the “Ghost Fleet,” the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere, which has become a unique ecological habitat and tourist attraction.
The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary Nomination was submitted to NOAA for consideration by the State of Maryland in September 2014. There are currently 14 National Marine Sanctuaries in the United States. A broad based coalition of businesses, non-profits, and educational, fishery and conservation organizations joined together to support the nomination. Today, many applauded this milestone in the designation process.
“We’re thrilled to learn of NOAA’s Notice of Intent, as Mallows Bay –Potomac River is now a step closer toward becoming the first National Marine Sanctuary designated in more than 20 years and the first ever in the Chesapeake,” President and CEO Joel Dunn, Chesapeake Conservancy, a lead partner in the coalition, said. “We’re now calling on the public for their help to make this dream a reality by attending the public meetings and telling NOAA officials why this designation is important. The public’s participation during this critical phase can help protect Mallows Bay for generations to come.”
NOAA has scheduled two public meetings to solicit public comments, concerns, and visions for the proposed new sanctuary. The first will occur on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at the Charles County Government Building, 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, Maryland. The second will be held on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 2nd St, Annapolis, Maryland. Both sessions will begin with an open house from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., followed by an official program and public comments from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Donald G. Shomette, author of The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and widely considered to be the foremost expert on Mallows Bay, celebrated this milestone, stating, “”Mallows Bay is a veritable time capsule, a unique sanctuary of history embedded in nature, a living laboratory for all the ages to come.”
“The College of Southern Maryland wholeheartedly supports the Mallows Bay Marine Sanctuary. Our faculty are very interested in developing academic programs around the Sanctuary and will also use it for field-trips and other academically related-endeavors,” President Dr. Bradley Gottfried, College of Southern Maryland, said. “On a broader scale, this is a project that has been embraced by the entire community. It is wonderful to see the local schools, government, and nonprofit organizations working together to assist in moving the project forward. It will truly be a boon to Charles County and the entire region.”
“Mallows Bay offers a unique combination of nature and history for the outdoor enthusiast. One can explore the bay itself, loaded with hundreds of shipwrecks that have formed many oddly shaped islands,” Judy Lathrop of Atlantic Kayak Company and the Piscataway Creek Discovery Center, said. “If you are interested in birding or fishing, you will be thrilled with the diversity and abundance of wildlife. If paleontology is your thing, you can search the beaches for sharks teeth and other fossils. I urge those who are interested to attend the upcoming meetings to show your support for making Mallows Bay a marine sanctuary and to preserve it in perpetuity.
For more information, members of the public are invited to contact Charlie Stek, chair, of the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary Nomination Steering Committee, at [email protected] or Jody Couser, director of communications for the Chesapeake Conservancy, at jcouser@chesapeakeconservancy.