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DNR and Queen Anne’s County to Fund Dredging of Kent Narrows Channel
ANNAPOLIS -The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Queen Anne’s County have joined forces and assets to ensure that the Kent Narrows Channel will be dredged and boater-ready this summer, thanks to the State’s Waterway Improvement Fund.
The Kent Narrows Channel is one of the most heavily-traveled channels in the Chesapeake Bay connecting the Chester River to Eastern Bay. Thousands of recreational boaters use the channel annually; the area is home port for more than 100 commercial watermen and a host of marinas and other marine-related businesses. Without the channel, boaters would need to circumvent Kent Island, a 27-mile journey.
Dangerous shoals clog portions of the Chester River side of the Kent Narrows Channel, causing numerous boaters to run aground. When requests for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredge were denied for lack of federal funding, the county commissioners and Robert Gaudette, Director of DNR’s Waterway Improvement Program, called an emergency working session to brainstorm ways to get the job done-and done quickly.
“It is essential for boater safety and our local economy that the Kent Narrows Channel dredging move forward,” said County Commission President Dr. Eric Wargotz. “The Department of Natural Resources really stepped up to the plate to make this happen.”
In a project estimated to cost about $1.5 million, DNR anteed up a $900,000 Waterway Improvement Fund Grant. Additionally the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners voted unanimously to provide the remaining $600,000, with the expectation that DNR will include this additional funding in their proposed FY 2008 budget request. The Waterway Improvement Program is primarily funded through the 5 percent excise tax paid when boats are purchased and titled in Maryland. The program also receives 0.3 percent of the state’s motor fuel tax as a result of purchases made to fuel boats.
“Recognizing the urgent need to correct this navigational hazard, DNR placed the project high on its list of priorities,” said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. “I’d like to commend DNR’s Waterway Improvement staff and the commissioners for their great work in ensuring this vital passageway remains open to recreational and commercial boaters.”
While boater safety is of paramount importance, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners also recognize that the Kent Narrows business district is a major economic engine for the county, generating revenues from marinas, hotels, restaurants, boat sales and vessel repairs, and other tourism dollars associated with the area.
“Based on the current rate of shoaling, it was predicted that the channel would not be navigable for much of the boating public this boating season,” said Commissioner Gene Ransom. “It was essential that we get this done quickly and efficiently.”
Queen Anne’s County has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to perform the maintenance dredging on a 5,600-foot long portion of the channel to ensure that it is at least 7 feet deep and 75 feet wide. According to the Corps, about 28,000 cubic yards of dredged material will be removed using a hydraulic dredge. The material will be pumped in a continuous sealed pipeline and placed behind existing offshore segmented breakwaters located adjacent to the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge. The end result will be the creation of a wetland using native grasses.
February 12, 2007
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov