Maryland And Delaware Sign Nanticoke River Restoration Agreement

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John A. Hughes met on the Delmarva Peninsula today to sign an agreement supporting a bi-state effort to ensure long-term stewardship of the Nanticoke River.

“Working together with the state of Delaware, we are forging an exciting new partnership to protect the unique, rare ecological resources and agricultural economy of the Nanticoke River watershed,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “I’d like to recognize Governor Minner for her terrific leadership on this effort. It is only by working together – from state to state, local elected officials to non-profit conservation organizations, federal agencies to local educators, and landowners to local businesses – that we will make progress to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for current and future generations.”

Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner joined the Secretaries at Phillips Landing to support the initiative.

“I applaud the comprehensive efforts of our two state natural resource agencies and partners to join in this historic agreement to ensure the enduring legacy of the Nanticoke River,” said Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner. “The entire Nanticoke region is rich in cultural and heritage assets and I know Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley shares our goal of stewardship and wise use of this beautiful river and surrounding lands.”

Rich not only with historical and cultural assets, the Nanticoke River flows through a region that hosts some of the most biologically diverse natural habitats including maritime forests, expansive Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress wetlands, and globally rare plant and wildlife species.

Today in Vienna, Md., local, state and regional land conservation leaders gathered to celebrate the proposed preservation of 275+ acres to implement the town’s planned greenbelt along its western and southern borders. Purchase of the farmland with $4.3 million of Program Open Space funds is pending approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works, which is scheduled to review the transaction on June 11.

“Mayor Russ Brinsfield and Vienna residents and businesses deserve great credit and recognition for their extraordinary vision to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that aims to protect the town’s unique rural and historic character by clearly defining areas where growth should occur,” added Governor O’Malley. “Vienna serves as a model for other communities – both here on the Eastern Shore and across the Bay to central, western, and southern Maryland.”

Extending approximately 63 miles from its headwaters in Sussex County, Del. to its mouth at Tangier Sound, Dorchester County, Md., the Nanticoke River is the largest Chesapeake Bay tributary on the Delmarva Peninsula. Residents and visitors revere and treasure the Nanticoke watershed for its rural, natural landscape, which remains characteristic of its appearance when Captain Smith explored the river 400 years ago in June 1608.

Joining Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Griffin and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Hughes in signing the historic agreement were Charlie Stek, president of the Friends of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and John Maounis, superintendent of the National Park Service’s Captain John Smith Trail and Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.

“Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, the State of Maryland has undertaken several new initiatives to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and to protect our natural and cultural resources,” said Secretary Griffin. “This agreement identifies projects and initiatives upon which we will work together to achieve our shared vision for a healthy and productive Nanticoke River.”

Collaborative projects will include a Nanticoke River Water Trail map and guide; a brochure on the river’s history, heritage and culture; land and water conservation stewardship; and promotion of “citizen scientists” as water quality and wetlands stewards.

“Protecting the habitat and natural heritage of this graceful, distinctive river is a goal we heartily share with Maryland,” said Secretary Hughes. “Our agreement recognizes the exceptional and largely unspoiled nature of this ecological resource, and underscores the need to collaborate with federal and local governments and our conservation partners to maintain and enhance its diversity and recreational opportunities.”

At the request of DNREC, the National Park Service is designating the Nanticoke River as connector gateway in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail will be most fully experienced by watercraft and at public water access sites.

“A second site in Delaware has been added to the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – the Nanticoke River Water Trail. Delaware is a key partner in providing public use of the river, an understanding of trail history, and an appreciation of Captain John Smith Trail resources,” said John Maounis, National Park Service superintendent for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.

Charlie Stek, president of the Friends of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Historic Trail, commended the Maryland and Delaware Departments and the National Park Service for creating the agreement by saying, “This agreement represents a major step toward achieving the vision of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. It will provide opportunities for cooperative conservation, eco-tourism and recreation, and education and stewardship, which will protect the Nanticoke and help keep it the beautiful river John Smith first explored.”

Visit DNREC’s website to view the Nanticoke Partnership Agreement.

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