BALTIMORE — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbra A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has awarded $750,000 in funding under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to permanently protect approximately 140 acres of land in the Popes Creek region of Charles County, Md. The land includes 9 acres of estuarine emergent wetlands, 66 acres of forested uplands that buffer a seasonal stream/drainage, and 67 acres of open field that would be available for reforestation.
“Protecting wetlands and forests like those around the mouth of Popes Creek is essential to providing clean water and important habitat for numerous types of fish and wildlife,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These investments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its conservation partners ensure that future generations will continue to reap the benefits of a healthy Chesapeake Bay.
“Popes Creek is one of Charles County’s unique treasures,” Senator Mikulski said. “Investment in our environment is an investment in the future of our state. It helps jobs in the tourism industry by providing an engaging environment for residents and visitors, and it helps the environment by protecting a complex habitat for many species. I will continue to work to protect Popes Creek so that it will be preserved for future generations of Marylanders.”
The area surrounding where Popes Creek meets the Potomac River is able to support a highly diverse population of plants and animals. The property provides breeding and stopover habitat for migratory birds during the spring and fall migration; breeding habitat for water birds, shorebirds and wintering waterfowl, including the American black duck; and spawning, nursery and forage habitat for numerous fish species. The rich population of flora and fauna makes the area especially attractive to sportsman, angles, ornithologists and botanists. The property will be obtained through a fee simple purchase and a perpetual conservation easement. The newly acquired property drains into the approximately 60-acre marsh at the mouth of Pope’s Creek, and its protection will expand and buffer the protected wetlands.
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is funded through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters and creates significant benefits for all who wish to enjoy the outdoors. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects. In addition to the $750,000 federal investment, state and local partners will provide $844,500 in matching funding.