News from the DNR Office of Communications

Cliff Erosion Steering Committee Presents Draft Report To Calvert County Commissioners

Governor O'Malley reaches out to Maryland’s Congressional Delegation for Federal assistance

Annapolis, Md. (October 26, 2010) — Maryland’s Cliff Erosion Steering Committee — composed of local, state and federal government agencies — today presented its draft report to the Calvert County Board of Commissioners. The report is the result of an 8-month effort to evaluate properties most likely to be impacted by shoreline erosion along cliffs in Calvert County and identify potential solutions for landowners.

“While there is still much work to be done, we have developed a good road map of potential actions to assist landowners living along the Calvert County cliffs, which have been eroding for centuries,” said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin who chaired the committee. “I want to thank all the steering committee members for their hard work, and look forward to their continued collaboration as we move forward to tackle this extremely complex issue.”

The Committee evaluated 234 houses located within 100 feet of the steep eroding cliffs along Calvert County’s Bay shoreline, 83 of which stand within 20 feet of the cliffs. More than half of those — approximately 45 — are located on cliffs inhabited by the Puritan tiger beetle, a federally threatened and state endangered species.

After assessing the shoreline, aerial maps, soil and environmental conditions, as well as historic erosion activity, the Committee confirmed that there are no proven solutions to stabilize the top of the cliffs where the homes are located. Stabilizing the toe or bank may slow erosion, but will not stop it.

The committee’s report outlined short, medium and long term solutions including:

  • conducting further site-specific investigation of houses within 20 feet of the cliffs to prioritize those that may be in immediate danger from the impact of erosion;
  • seeking federal pre-disaster mitigation funds through the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to assist property owners with relocation;
  • allowing incidental “take” of the Puritan tiger beetle within new guidelines currently being drafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
  • seeking federal assistance to identify comprehensive engineering solutions for cliff stabilization; and
  • seeking state and federal funds to protect Puritan tiger beetle habitat.

Governor Martin O’Malley is working with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer to explore federal assistance options for the impacted residents. In a letter to the Senator and Congressman, Governor O’Malley supported Calvert County’s request for emergency funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help implement some of steering committee recommendations, and requested assistance in expediting the County’s application. Pre-disaster mitigation funds could be used to help property owners with the costs of relocating their homes farther away from the cliffs, and to acquire easements or property from landowners willing to sell.

The public is encouraged to review and comment on the committee’s draft report and presentation to the board, which are available online at www.co.cal.md.us. The draft report also recommends that State and county elected officials appoint a citizens advisory committee to work with the existing steering committee. An assessment will now be for undertaken Kent and Cecil Counties, which are facing similar issues.


   October 26, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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 12 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