by Taylor O’Bier
Several local representatives and county governments from the Northern Neck stepped forward to show their opposition towards the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposal for a national marine sanctuary in the Mallows Bay – Potomac River area in the days and weeks before the online public comment period ended on March 31.
Both the King George County Administrator Dr. Neiman Young and Stafford County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Milde, III submitted letters to NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries Chesapeake Bay Regional Coordinator Paul “Sammy” Orlando. Both letters from the counties requested the comment period be extended. Milde stated in his letter, “Stafford County was not consulted during the development of this proposal and official comments were not directly solicited from any of our government agencies.” Stafford County is immediately adjacent to three of the proposed sanctuary boundaries.
Young stated in his letter that King George opposes the sanctuary, claiming it will potentially have a “real and immediate negative impact” on the county, its residents, businesses and the Naval Support Facility – Dahlgren. The letter also stated that if Alternative A (no sanctuary at all) weren’t chosen, then they would recommend Alternative B so the boundaries do not reach King George County’s border.
Since its announced intent in October 2015, NOAA has worked through a public process alongside the Maryland and Charles County government to receive input on the proposed sanctuary. From the first round of input, they created four separate alternatives for the potential national marine sanctuary. Alternative A represents no sanctuary, Alternative B is 18-square miles of Mallows Bay in the Potomac, Alternative C is NOAA’s preferred alternative and 52-square miles of the Potomac and Alternative D is 100-square miles, including some of the river’s tributaries.
Pick up a copy of the April 5 edition of the Northumberland Echo to read the full story