July 15, 2020

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Mallows Bay Designation Moves Forward

Mallows Bay

The Ghost Ships of Mallows Bay are a big step closer to permanent protection. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been able to reach an agreement with the state of Maryland to publish in the Federal Register the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Management Plan to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. The designation has been applauded by Congressman Steny H. Hoyer and US Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

Nearly four years ago, NOAA announced its plans to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a National Marine Sanctuary – the first in Maryland – and it has been 20 years since any new national marine sanctuary has been nominated for designation in the entire country.

“We are thankful to NOAA, the partners for Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and the dedicated volunteers who have been focused on protecting Mallows Bay and expanding public accessibility of a unique national historical landmark,” Congressman Hoyer and the other lawmakers said. “This designation will help protect Mallows Bay for future generations, spur tourism, and support local jobs and the economy. 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.”

Mallows Bay-Potomac River is a 18-square mile region of the tidal Potomac River, adjacent to Charles County. Close to 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 US Emergency Fleet, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The portion of the river is mostly undeveloped and has been identified as one of the most ecologically valuable natural areas in the state, providing essential habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened, and endangered species. The area was nominated by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in September 2014 and was endorsed by a diverse coalition of local, state, regional, and national groups.

According to NOAA, the authority for natural resource management will stay with the state of Maryland and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. Because of the area’s historical significance, NOAA, Maryland, and Charles County will manage the marine sanctuary together.

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For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader Page.

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