Accord to protect Md. coastal bays signed U.S. earmarks $1 million for conservation project

June 25, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

OCEAN CITY -- Federal, state and local officials agreed yesterday to work together to protect and restore Maryland's distressed coastal bays.

The agreement, signed on the dock of a bay-side restaurant, commits the various branches of government to develop a conservation and management plan for the four coastal bays and nearby tributaries.

The federal government has earmarked $1.3 million for the bays project.

Several officials noted that protecting the bays makes sense both economically and environmentally.

"We are here to protect a sizable economic investment, and the livelihood of thousands of Marylanders," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Earlier, the governor addressed the environmental problems caused by unchecked suburban growth, as he warned hundreds of local officials attending a convention that sprawl threatens rural areas and ignores the needs of decaying older areas.

"If the growth patterns that have been in place over the past 25 years do not change, consider what will happen over the next 25 years," Glendening told members of the Maryland Municipal League. "We will virtually ignore our great and historic urban centers. We will consume half a million acres of farmland."

The Glendening administration hopes to propose legislation to combat sprawl during next year's session of the General Assembly, although the governor offered no specifics yesterday.

The coastal bays agreement came three months after the release of a major study that found major portions of the bays in Maryland and Delaware have been damaged by pollution from farming and development.

The study, conducted for the federal government and the two states, concluded that the narrow, shallow waterways alongside the beach resorts are just as degraded environmentally as the Chesapeake Bay, which has long been the focus of a regional clean-up.

Federal, state and local officials will have three years to develop a plan to protect the bays -- Sinepuxent, Assawoman, Isle of Wight, and Chincoteague -- and streams such as the St. Martin River and Trappe Creek, as well as surrounding land areas.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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