La Plata, MD – Feb. 7th  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will hold the first of two public scoping meetings on Tuesday, March 7 at the Charles County Government Building (200 Baltimore Street, La Plata) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. NOAA is seeking input on four alternative map proposals for Mallows Bay. In a first for the state of Maryland and the Chesapeake watershed, NOAA declared its intent to designate Mallows Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary in October 2015.

This meeting is an opportunity for the public, partners, and other stakeholders to review and comment on the sanctuary proposal. Public input will assist NOAA in moving forward with the designation process. To submit formal written comment regarding the nomination, visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov/mallows-bay. Electronic and mailed comments must be received by March 31, 2017.

The second Mallows Bay public meeting will be held at Anne Arundel Community College Center in the Applied Learning and Technology Building (101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012), Room 100 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In November 2016, art students from the county’s seven public high schools and Robert D. Stetham Educational Center participated in the Mallows Bay Art project. Students captured Mallows Bay on various mediums, including sketching, painting, video, and photography. Samples of the artwork will be showcased at the Mallows Bay public meeting on March 7.

Mallows Bay, located near the Potomac River, is home to the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere. The area offers unique archaeological, recreational, historical, cultural, educational, and environmental opportunities for residents and tourists. The site includes historic vessels dating back to the Revolutionary War, remains of the largest ‘Ghost Fleet’ of the World War I steamships, wildlife viewing areas, fishing, boating access, and a hiking trail.

For more information about the National Marine Sanctuary System, visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov. To learn more about Mallows Bay, visit www.CharlesCountyParks.com/parks/mallows-bay-park. Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.