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News and Resources

Public input sought on management plan - April 26, 2014

During the past year, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program has been working with its many federal, state and local partners to update our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.

This plan, originally created in 1999, is the guiding force behind the efforts of the Coastal Bays Program to protect and inform the public about Maryland’s coastal bays. The original plan is turning 15 this year, so in order to stay up to date with current needs and issues, we are updating the entire plan. This will take some time.

The plan is a comprehensive document of more than 150 pages that was written in conjunction with several federal, state and local agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, the towns of Ocean City and Berlin, and the National park Service, just to name a few.

The plan consists of four main sections: Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife/Habitats, Recreation and Navigation, and Community and Economic Development. Each of these sections is further broken down into more manageable steps and items that are to be done by the Coastal Bays Program and its partners. In total, the plan outlines 15 main goals, 35 objectives and 216 actions items.

In order to ensure the partners are working on the most important issues and dilemmas for each of these goals, objectives and action items are vetted through other environmental organizations and agencies and through public input, as well.

The Coastal Bays Program and its partners will hold two workshops this month. The first will be held at Snow Hill Middle School on April 29 from 5-8 p.m. The second workshop, April 30, will be held at the Ocean Pines Country Club from 5-8 p.m. Both workshops will cover the same material about the plan, but they are being held at two locations in an effort to accommodate as many attendees as possible.

The workshops are designed for attendees to be able to come in at any point of the three-hour session and be able to add their input through questions, comments or concerns they might have about the four major sections as a whole or any individual sections without having to stay for the entire time span. We are encouraging everyone from the local communities to attend these workshops. 

The more varying input we have from a wide array of groups and individuals with different interests, the better suited our updated plan will be for our community. While science serves as the foundation for the plan and what the program does, it is the public’s attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and knowledge that are truly crucial to protecting our bays now and in the future.

The workshops are also meant to be open and informative, there is no need for background information about the current plan for anyone who wants to attend and give input about the updates. If you have any questions about the workshops, contact Sandi Smith at sandis@mdcoastalbays.org or call her at 410-213-2297, ext. 107.

On top of updating the plan to better suit the current needs in our coastal bays, the Coastal Bays Program is also moving to better serve our coastal community. Our new office will be directly off Route 611 at the old Pine Shore South Golf Club House, only a few minutes away from both Assateague Island and Ocean City.

Our new location is not only bigger than our current office, but is also easier for visitors and locals alike to find and has more space for parking, storage and gardens/plants. While we are still in our current location in the Teal Marsh Shopping Center off Route 50, we will be completely moved into our new location hopefully by the end of the month, just in time for the summer season, so feel free to stop by and say hello!
 
Harrison Jackson is the Coastal Stewards coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

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