- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One week ago, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved lease of a 185-acre parcel within the Department of Natural Resources’ Nanjemoy Natural Resource Management Area to Charles County for development and operation of a recreational area that will provide year-round public water access.

Potomac River boaters and anglers will better recognize the place as Mallows Bay, an area dotted with skeletal remains of sunken ships, located downstream of the Chicamuxen Creek on the Maryland shore, and straight across from the southern tip of Virginia’s Quantico Marine Base.

Proposed improvements to that site include a single boat launch ramp and boarding pier, a kayak and canoe launch, restroom facilities, an overnight camp and an interpretive kiosk.

But don’t hitch the boat to the truck just yet, fellow anglers.

Charles County — bless it! — is in charge of this thing now, and the story lies not in the fact that the state approved this lease, but in the behind-the-scenes effort that brought this to fruition. It was the county that had the desire to purchase the property known as the Wilson Farm and the initiative to develop it into a boating access and outdoor recreational opportunity for residents.

The state ultimately purchased the property, but it was Charles County that invested almost 10 years as an advocate to acquire this property for public access. A lot of time was wasted by state officials who worried about environmentalists’ concerns regarding “noise” possibly made by bass boaters and other trivia.

Meanwhile, Charles County is still jumping through bureaucratic hoops. But once that’s over, the county will hire a contractor to build the ramp and pier, make access road improvements and add a small parking lot. So far the county has secured $100,000 in Waterway Improvement Funds from the state.

There will be no additional cost to the public. Charles County knows the Waterway Improvement Fund, kept afloat by the state’s boat registration, taxes and sticker fees, paid for the project. The county believes boaters shouldn’t have to pay twice for something, as they do now whenever they launch at nearby Smallwood State Park.

Coastal Conservation group banquet — The Southern Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will hold its annual fundraiser and winter banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday at the St. Charles Sportsmans Club’s Middletown Hall, 4045 Renner Road in Waldorf.

The cost is $40 a person ($75 couple, pre-registered) or $45 single/$85 couple at the door. Each ticket includes a one-year CCA membership and a chance to participate in live and silent auctions and raffles for outdoor-oriented items as well as Longaberger baskets, Waterford crystal and fine dinnerware. Send the money for tickets to Donald Gardiner, 3675 Fritz Place, Waldorf, Md., 20601.

Public hunting meeting — The Maryland DNR invites the hunting public to attend meetings scheduled in various parts of the state so it can present hunting and trapping regulation proposals for resident game species and select migratory game species for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 hunting license years.

The nearest meeting will be 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11 at Central Middle School, 211 Central Ave. East in Edgewater. For those unable to attend, written comments can be sent to Paul Peditto, Director, DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building E-1, Annapolis, Md., 21401; call 410/260-8540 or 877/620-8367, ext. 8540. If you prefer e-mail, send it to [email protected], but do it by March 13. Comments received by e-mail are posted on the Web site at: www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/hntgp.asp.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, in The Washington Times.

E-mail: [email protected]

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