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State Commission Visits Courthouse and Waterways
Port Republic, MD - 10/18/2012
By Marty Madden
Members and staff of the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coast Bays (CAC) were the guests of the Calvert County Commissioners Tuesday, Oct. 16. Commission staff, along with Calvert County Environmental Planner Dr. Dave Brownlee, provided an update on changes to Maryland’s Critical Area maps. Several members of the entourage, along with Department of Community Planning and Building went canoeing and kayaking in Parkers Creek and the Chesapeake Bay near Warriors Rest.
“Things have changed considerably since 1985,” said CAC Education and Conservation Coordinator Mary Owens, who gave an overview of the commission’s remapping efforts.
Owens pointed out the “true color imagery” is “extremely accurate.” In addition to aerial photography, state officials will be conducting “ground trothing,” that is, ground level surveys on properties adjacent to waterways.
“It’s to the advantage of a homeowner to let them [ground-truthing crews] on to your property,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R].
Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R] concurred, indicating it would not be to the advantage of a landowner if the maps were not accurate. Clark is one of two Southern Maryland elected officials—St. Mary’s County Commissioners’ President Jack Russell [D] being the other—who are CAC members. Clark began his tenure on the commission this year.
Three areas of Calvert County—Breezy Point, Drum Point and North Beach—will be reevaluated during the ongoing mapping process. Owens predicted statewide there would likely be an increase of Critical Area.
Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] asked if CAC made clear to landowners if their property was located within the Critical Area. Owens pledged that CAC staff would work with Calvert County Government to conduct the necessary outreach to citizens. Last year Slaughenhoupt had suggested Critical Area signage.
Clark had suggested to CAC Chair Margaret McHale that members and staff would get a better understanding of Calvert’s efforts to protect the environment and adhere to Critical Area regulations by taking the canoe excursion through Parkers Creek. A vast area of the watershed located near the creek’s confluence with the Chesapeake Bay is managed by the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT).
Department of Community Planning and Building Historical Preservation Specialist Kirsti Uunila explained the ACLT’s years of effort to demonstrate the historical significance of the watershed. The tract has been the site of “a lot of activity” by both Native Americans and African Americans but the habitation of the area was relatively brief. The headwaters of Parkers Creek are situated in what Uunila referred to as a “regenerated forest.”
“We have some amazing places in Calvert County,” Shaw told CAC officials. “We have a lot of well-protected areas.”
Clark admitted he had “heard horror stories about the Critical Area Commission” and expressed frustration with some state agencies’ heavy-handedness in mandating new, onerous regulations—specifically, the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and the measure known pejoratively as The Septic Bill. The board president noted Calvert has preserved over 30,000 acres and implemented nationally recognized initiatives such as town centers and a transfer of development rights program.
“I put in a plug with the [Maryland] Department of Planning,” CAC Executive Director Ren Serey pledged.
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org
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