One of the most fertile fish breeding grounds in the Chesapeake Bay is threatened by a proposed four-lane highway that would pave wetlands and ignite sprawl in a wooded section of Southern Maryland.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging people to write the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and ask them to deny permits that would allow Charles County to destroy wetlands to build the highway, called the Cross County Connector.
The deadline for public comment is Monday, Sept. 15. Please send a letter now opposing the permit.
The $60 million Cross County Connector would run east-to-west across northern Charles County, replacing dozens of acres of forest with a strip of blacktop as the roadway connects the malls in Waldorf with new subdivisions.
The massive construction project is the opposite of "Smart Growth," in that homes would be spread out and distant from existing cities or towns. County documents report that the highway will "facilitate" the construction of 1,113 homes at an average density of one acre each, and add other development that is "dependent" on construction of the road.
A preliminary August 2003 report by the Army Corps of Engineers predicted that all the additional blacktop and roofs proposed for the area would have a "severe"� impact on the Mattawoman Creek, increasing runoff pollution into the creek by 50 percent.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has described the Mattawoman Creek as "the best, most productive tributary in the bay."� More than 50 species of fish, including yellow perch and largemouth bass, breed in the creek, which empties into the Potomac River.
To build the road across Mattawoman Creek, Charles County must first obtain permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers to destroy more than seven acres of wetlands. The MDE must certify that runoff pollution will not violate water quality standards in the creek.
CBF urges the MDE and the Army Corps to say no and protect not only the creek, but also the quality of life in Southern Maryland -- and the fish that are so vital to the Chesapeake Bay.