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America’s Newest Marine Sanctuary

Mallows Bay awarded distinction

It’s almost official. Maryland’s Mallows Bay will be the first new national marine sanctuary in almost 20 years. On July 8, the designation was announced by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the state of Maryland and Charles County. As what’s working behind the scenes here is bureaucracy at its best, the sanctuary designation will not be effective until after 45 more days of continuous session of Congress.
    Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan — who had slowed the approval until a compromise satisfied watermen — said he was “thrilled by the announcement.
    “Preserving our history, heritage and natural resources have always been a priority for our administration, and designating this national treasure as a marine sanctuary is yet another example of our stewardship,” he said.
    Mallows Bay, on the Potomac River about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., in Charles County, is the final resting place for a number of steam ships built to support the allied troops in World War I. In 1918, as American companies competed to be the most efficient builders, records were set with 290-foot-long wooden ships constructed in less than a month from start to launch.
    Apparently building a partnership of federal, state, local and private interests is more complicated than building a ship. Navigating the maze of administrative procedures for the state, the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act took five years.
    Discussion continues about the next steps to expand public engagement, access, education and enjoyment of this outstanding area. The final designation is expected to be in effect before year’s end.