Bay Journal

Topics: Conservation + Land Use

Mallows Bay sanctuary dodges a bullet

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The proposal to establish a national marine sanctuary around Mallows Bay dodged a bullet of sorts earlier this week, when the Potomac River Fisheries Commission declined to take a position, despite urging from Maryland and Virginia watermen to oppose any of the options now on the table.

After nearly three hours of discussion and debate, the eight-member panel defeated a motion by one of its members, Maryland waterman Billy Rice, which objected to any sanctuary in the mainstem of the river, where the commission regulates fishing.

Watermen have raised an outcry against the proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate the first marine sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay region. If approved, it would protect the remains of nearly 200 historic ships sunk in the Potomac, the bulk of them a “ghost fleet” of wooden-hulled vessels in Mallows Bay that were built to aid the United States’ entry into World War I a century ago. A few wrecks date back to the Civil and even Revolutionary wars.

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Trees, please (Opinion)

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head. —William Butler Yeats People feel better out under the trees. So do most songbirds, owls, butterflies and brook trout. So do our creeks, soil microbes and water...

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About Conservation + Land Use

Since colonial times, no change to the Chesapeake ecosystem has been greater than the alteration of its landscape. A vast expanse of forest once absorbed most of the rainfall and held most of the sediment in place.

Over time, the forests have been replaced with farms and development, all of which have greatly increased the amount of runoff and pollution reaching streams and the Chesapeake Bay. While forests still comprise the greatest land use in the region, they have been greatly altered, consisting of smaller trees and lacking many of the species — such as American chestnut — that were common in the past.

The rapid rate of development in recent decades has accelerated the spread of impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots, dramatically increasing runoff and degrading stream health throughout the region. Conservation efforts are underway to identify, and protect, some of the high priority landscapes and resources that remain.

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