WASHINGTON, DC —U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski along with Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (all D-Md.), today applauded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) announcement of its intent to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA is asking for the public’s input on protecting Mallows Bay, a 14-square mile area of the tidal Potomac River adjacent to Charles County, which includes threatened shipwrecks of national significance that merit the additional management authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
“Nearby residents, historic preservationists, conservationists, local business owners and state leaders long have been united in their support for establishing a national marine Sanctuary in Maryland’s Mallows Bay, so I welcome today’s announcement as tremendously significant for our state and our nation,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “NOAA’s foresighted action will elevate the protection and public accessibility of a unique national historical landmark that is ecologically important to fish and wildlife, including endangered species.”
“I am pleased that NOAA is moving forward with designating Mallows Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary that will safeguard maritime heritage and cultural history in Maryland,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer. “Mallows Bays as a National Marine Sanctuary would increase opportunities for tourism and economic development and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, while protecting the natural and historic resources in the Southern Maryland region for future generations to come. I thank all of the local businesses, community organizations, state agencies, and elected officials who worked together as partners, providing information and insight, to support Mallows Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary.”
“Mallow’s Bay is one of Maryland’s unique treasures,” U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski said. “Investment in our environment is an investment in the future of our state. It helps with jobs in the tourism industry by providing an engaging environment for residents and visitors, and it helps with the environment by providing a complex habitat for many species. Designating Mallow’s Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary will make sure it is preserved so that future generations of Marylanders can enjoy it.”
Mallows Bay-Potomac River in Maryland is a 14-square mile area of the tidal Potomac River, adjacent to Charles County. Nearly 200 vessels spanning from the Revolutionary War through the present are found in the area, including the remains of the largest “Ghost Fleet” of World War I wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mallows Bay is largely undeveloped and has been identified as one of the most ecologically valuable in Maryland providing important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened, and endangered species.
Mallows Bay-Potomac River was nominated by former Governor Martin O’Malley in September 2014, and was endorsed by a diverse coalition of local, state, regional and national groups. This is NOAA’s first time since 2001 announcing its intent to designate new sanctuaries under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
NOAA is opening the scoping process for the public to provide input that will inform the development of a draft management plan, draft environmental impact statement, and proposed regulations. The comment period is open until January 15, 2016. The public is invited to provide comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov (docket number for Mallows Bay-Potomac River is NOAA-NOS-2015-0111) or to attend one of two public meetings held in November 2015:
November 4, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
La Plata–Charles County Government Building Auditorium
200 Baltimore Street
La Plata, Maryland
November 10, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Annapolis Maritime Museum
723 Second Street
Comments on Mallows Bay-Potomac River can also be sent to the following:
Chesapeake Bay Regional Coordinator
ONMS Northeast and Great Lakes Region
c/o NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office
410 Severn Ave, Suite 207-A
Annapolis, MD 21403