Balance is needed on shore, official says

September 18, 1997|By D. Quentin Wilber | D. Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

WYE MILLS -- Maryland's Eastern Shore must strike a delicate balance among economic development, farming and its environmental health, the head of the state's Department of Natural Resources told a gathering of scientists and officials yesterday.

"We need to provide for economic growth without damaging the environment that gives this area its competitive edge," John R. Griffin said.

He cited the Pocomoke area as a prime example of the need for sufficient controls to maintain the Eastern Shore's environment.

That area has been trying to lure more tourists -- efforts that, in Pocomoke City, have been unsuccessful lately because of fish kills along the Pocomoke River attributed to the Pfiesteria microorganism. "The Pocomoke is the canary in the cave," Griffin said. "It illustrates the need to vigorously balance our needs."

Griffin's remarks began the conference on the region's growth-related problems. Among those attending at Chesapeake College were upper shore county commissioners, economic development officials, environmentalists and farmers.

During his half-hour talk, Griffin said that, without plans to protect the Eastern Shore from overdevelopment, its tourism industry will suffer. And without sufficient controls on pollution, said, environmental problems could stymie the region's overall economy.

Another speaker highlighted efforts to buy farmland to save it from development. "We're doing a poor job of managing our growth," said Robert Etgen, executive director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. "By entering into farmland % 5/8 preservation, we're ensuring farming has a future here."

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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