Unscenic river

The Capital, July 15, 2008

How can we say we are serious about protecting the environment in Maryland when we continue to let politics and improper influence drive the decisions of the Maryland Department of the Environment?

If you've taken annual boat rides up the Severn in recent years, you've seen the steady increase in bulkheads, hardened shorelines, piers, and clear cutting. There seems to be no end to it, even though we continue to hear about the environmentally conscious new executive leadership both at the county and the state level.

Most of these projects are clear violations of the intended environmental laws, but because of political pressure, backroom deals, and fear of lawsuits, most get approved. That assumes permits are filed; many times they are not - with little or no consequences. To put it in context, what's a couple thousand dollars in fines if you're adding $500,000 in "pier value" to your property? Or a better water view from your living room?

Right now, my community of Olde Severna Park is spending enormous resources to protect precious bogs and tidal wetlands in Sullivan Cove from the construction of three piers over 600 feet in length. These piers will lead to significant and irreversible environmental damage that will ripple right into our very own "dead zone" in Round Bay. Many communities are watching our fight with fingers crossed as they know that if the MDE approves these piers, their communities could be next.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Maryland General Assembly, and the State Board of Public Works, I call on you to authorize MDE to do fulfill their mission of protecting the state's environmental resources or else "de-designate" the Severn River from state Scenic River status. Recent history makes it clear that this designation is hollow and a misrepresentation.

Severna Park

(Revised July 2008)