Marine Conservation Agreements
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Maryland Resources

Tidal Wetlands Regulations

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Access the North Atlantic Coast Ecoregional Assessment

The Nature Conservancy's Maryland Chapter

State Agency Contact Database

Maryland Analysis

Status: Initial

The Ocean and Coast

Maryland's coast includes 32 miles of Atlantic-facing shore and 3,000 - 4,000 miles of the Chesapeake Bay shore. State waters begin at the shoreline and extend three miles seaward covering over 1.6 million acres.

Marine Conservation Agreements

As of February 2009, The Nature Conservancy had not undertaken formal law, policy, or spatial data analyses related to Marine Conservation Agreements (MCAs) in Maryland. As such, we do not have a clear picture of what is legally possible, nor do we have a clear understanding of the ownership and leasing patterns across the coastal landscape and seascape. At this time, organizations wishing to pursue MCAs in Maryland should undertake site-specific assessments or work with state agency staff to evaluate opportunities statewide.

If organizations pursue MCAs in Maryland, several local, state, and federal authorizations may be required. The information that follows provides context for and information regarding possible authorization needs.

Submerged Lands — Tidal Wetlands

In Maryland, tidal wetlands means any land under the navigable waters of the State below the mean high tide, affected by the regular rise and fall of the tide. Tidal wetlands may be publicly or privately owned. While tidal wetlands were sold by the state prior to 1862, the state does not sell or convey state-owned tidal wetlands at this time. Public trust rights on these lands include navigation, fishing, and hunting.1

A wetlands license is needed for activities on state wetlands. Licenses for some structures (e.g., pilings, piers, decks, walkways) are reviewed and approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Licenses for other structures, dredging, and filling on state wetlands are reviewed by the MDE and approved by the Board of Public Works. Permits for fill projects are jointly issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (tidal wetlands permit) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Maryland Department of the Environment
Wetlands and Waterways Program
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Tel: 410-537-3000 or 410-537-3837

Maryland Board of Public Works
Wetlands Administration
80 Calvert Street, Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
Telephone: 410-260-7791
Fax: 410-974-5240
Email: dmoore@comp.state.md.us

Coastal Zone and Shoreline Development

Somerset County, Plate 16. Courtesy of Center for Coastal Resources Management— Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Maryland’s Coastal Zone extends from the inland borders of Maryland’s 16 coastal counties (plus Baltimore City) to three nautical miles offshore, and includes Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Coastal Program is a network of state planning and regulatory agencies, plus the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Critical Area Protection Program, and is administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Coastal Program reviews federal projects for consistency with Maryland’s Coastal Zone Management Plan and provides planning and technical assistance to local communities

The Critical Area Protection Program establishes a program for protecting habitat and managing growth within 1,000 feet of the tidal shore. Under the program, local governments have adopted ordinances that protect threatened and endangered species, fish spawning areas, and other significant habitat. Any development must maintain a 100-foot naturally vegetated buffer around tidally influenced waters.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Coastal Zone Management Program
Tawes State Office Bldg., E-2
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
Tel: 410-260-8730

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Bays
1804 West Street, Suite 100
Annapolis, MD 21401
1804 West Street, Suite 100
Annapolis, MD 21401
Tel: 410-260-3460

Beaches

Along Maryland’s 32 miles of Atlantic coast, beach nourishment has been used on a large scale to maintain Ocean City beaches and Assateague Island, where erosion has been exacerbated by Ocean City’s jetties. Ocean City is also using geotubes in conjunction with beach fill.

State law gives property owners the right to protect their shore from erosion. The Shore Erosion Control Program, in the Department of Natural Resources, provides both technical and financial assistance to public and private property owners regarding shorelines. In 2008, the Maryland General Assembly passed a Living Shoreline bill that makes non-structural shoreline erosion control the preferred alternative over structural control. In addition, some counties require residents to demonstrate that non-structural erosion responses will not work prior to authorizing structural erosion responses. Nevertheless, from 1996 to 2005, 200 more miles of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline were hardened.

The Maryland Beaches Program is a conduit for Federal BEACH Act funding and provides assistance to local health departments in monitoring water quality at recreational beaches.

Maryland Department of the Environment
Wetlands and Waterways Program
Beaches Program
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Tel: 410-537-3000 or 410-537-3837

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Shore Erosion Control
Tawes State Office Building D 3
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Tel: 410- 260-8523
Fax: 410-260-8894
Email: lcasanova@dnr.state.md.us

Fish and Wildlife

Maryland’s Fisheries Service, in the Department of Natural Resources, manages tidal fisheries in cooperation with neighboring states and the District of Columbia. Maryland cooperates with Virginia and Pennsylvania in the Chesapeake Bay Program. Fisheries in the mainstem of the Potomac River are managed by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, which includes representatives from Virginia and the District of Columbia. Coastal and migratory fisheries are coordinated with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC).

Waterfowl and other non-fish wildlife are managed by DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Fisheries Service
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes State Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
Fisheries 410-260-8280
Email: customerservice@dnr.state.md.us

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife & Heritage Service Headquarters
Tawes State Office Building, E-1
580 Taylor Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401
Tel: 410-260-8540
Fax: 410-260-8596
E-Mail: customerservice@dnr.state.md.us

Aquaculture

The Maryland Fisheries Service runs a bottom-leasing program for culture of shellfish. “Extensive” operations that do not require installing any structures are eligible for this program. Only submerged land that is not charted natural oyster bottom, clam bar, or within protected state oyster sanctuaries may be leased, and at least 25 bushels of shellfish must be planted or harvested one year in every three. Lease terms are 30 years. The program regulations have special provisions and exceptions for specified counties. Riparian owners on smaller creeks and inlets, and wharf owners, have certain exclusive rights to cultivate shellfish in small water bodies and under wharfs. Educational organizations are allowed to lease limited acreage; however, the Fisheries Service has stated that leases are not available for conservation purposes. The Fisheries Service itself conducts shellfish propagation efforts, as well as efforts to propagate and restore finfish, often in cooperation with local governments.

 “Intensive” culture, which employs structures and uses the water column, require an aquaculture permit, a tidal wetland license from the Department of the Environment, and approval from the Board of Public Works.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Fisheries Service
Aquaculture Program - Hatcheries and Finfish Restoration
Tawes State Office Building B-2
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Tel: 410-260-8323 or 410-260-8307
Email: customerservice@dnr.state.md.us

Water Quality

A wide variety of water quality programs are administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The MDE’s Water Information Center web page provides a good portal to these programs, which including shellfish, beach water quality, and nonpoint source pollution.

Maryland Department of the Environment
Water Management
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Tel: 410-537-3000

 

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1 Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. 2000. Submerged lands survey: Maryland. In Submerged lands survey update 2000, as presented at the 19th Annual International Submerged Lands Management Conference, Newport, Rhode Island, October 1-5 (download pdf, 492k)

 

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