West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 443-758-7797  ♦  PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764

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Legislative Issues, February 16, 2017

Currently there are 3 pieces of legislation that would directly impact the West & Rhode Rivers:

FORESTS

forestHouse Bill 599: Requires that any forest cleared above one acre be replanted at a 1:1 ratio. Currently, developers are only required to replant ¼ acre for each acre cleared.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Forests provide innumerable benefits to water quality, air quality, and habitat in our State. This legislation will help ensure that those benefits do not continue to shrink along with Maryland’s dwindling forest cover. At least 14 to 22 acres of forest are cut down or lost each day in Maryland—equal to at least 10 football fields of trees. That’s 5,000 to 8,000 acres each year. Tell your elected officials  to vote FOR House Bill 599 and "conserve the forests that are a vital protection and filter for the South River."

SEPTIC TANKS

failed septicHouse Bill 281: Requires that all new and replacement septic systems use the river-friendly Best Available Technology (BAT) to remove Nitrogen from septic effluent.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? In 2012, Maryland took positive steps to address septic pollution by regulation requiring BAT in all new systems. In the Fall of 2016, the Hogan Administration repealed this requirement, allowing an additional 28,750 pounds of nitrogen to enter groundwater and approximately 10,000 pounds/year to flow into surface water, fueling harmful algal blooms and dead zones throughout the State's waterways. Tell your elected officials to vote FOR Bill 281 to "support River-friendly septic tank upgrades!"

OYSTERS

oystersHouse Bill 924: Prohibits the opening of oyster sanctuaries to harvest before the completion of the Oyster Fishery Management Plan, which includes an oyster population study, due at the end of 2018.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? This is important because the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has discussed opening oyster sanctuaries to commercial harvest with watermen over the past several months.                              

Last year the Federation worked with other partners to pass the Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act, which requires a robust, science-driven assessment of the oyster population in the Bay by December 1, 2018. Without completion of this study, DNR may open productive sanctuary areas to commercial harvest that are vital to a healthy oyster population and a healthy South River.

Tell your elected officials  to vote FOR Bill 924. Let them know "you support scientifically informed decisions over politically pressured reactions to oyster management." 

WE NEED YOUR HELP:

1) Contact your Representatives HERE!

2) Join us for the Rally for Maryland Forest Conservation on Wed., Feb. 22nd at noon at the Lawyers Mall, Annapolis.