News & Events

Written testimony

Mark your calendar!

May 13 hearing on Charles County's "Tier Map"

6:30 PM
Charles County Government Building, La Plata

(Map to govt building)

Tier Map sets county's future growth by slating areas for sewer or septic systems. The Comprehensive Plan will be based on it.

The proposed map? Outrageous!

The map aims to turn Mattawoman Creek into another Anacostia River. It is so bad, that the Maryland Department of Planning is requiring the county to hold a hearing, in part because of "significant concerns that extensive development within the Mattawoman Creek Watershed will irreparably harm this water body, which supports a diverse, high quality aquatic ecosystem."

MDP goes on to note that the areas slated for intense development on sewer is larger than either Baltimore or Washington. Such sprawl development costs more to service than it generates in tax revenue, one reason why Charles County has the highest real-estate tax-rate of any county in the state. Sprawl development also explains the longest commute times in the state, and the constant redistricting of students who must then study in trailers--the greatest number of portable classrooms per student in the state. Curtailing sprawl would help fix these problems, and better protect our waterways. What is good for a watershed is good for people!

How did this happen? On March 11, Charles County Commissioners Collins, Rucci, and Davis rejected the recommendation of their own hand-picked workgroup, and directed county staff to invent a new map on the spot that would promote sprawl development. Miraculously, the map appeared in less than 15 minutes. These same three commissioners then promptly passed the damaging plan over the objections of Commissioner President Kelly and Commissioner Robinson.

 Red: sewered (despite inaccuracies); Yellow: planned for sewer; Orange: "major" subdivisions on septic; Green: "minor" subdivisions on septic.

A portion of the Tier Map is pictured above. It designates for intense development essentially all the unpreserved land in Charles County that sheds rainwater to Mattawoman (its "watershed"). No waterway can survive such an onslaught. It would cover the watershed with the same fraction of pavement and other hard surfaces as the Anacostia River.

This unsustainable approach would also turn the Indian Head Rail Trail from an exceptional outdoor experience into one of viewing commercial and residential development.

Learn more with this presentation (pdf)
It links Charles County's sprawl-inducing growth policies to the burden citizens bear while standing on the bottom rung for property taxes, commute times, educational shortcomings, and more, and explains a better, smarter approach.

Charles County Comprehensive Plan Revision

As we watch, Charles County's land-use polices are degrading Mattawoman Creek with the polluted runoff from over-development. The policies have also placed Charles County on the bottom rung for property tax rate, use of school trai
lers, commute time, teacher pay, and more.

To fix these problems, county staff consulted the public in an exhaustive year long process in 2011. With enthusiastic public support, they created a revised plan with Smart Growth principles. But the Planning Commission ignored it, in favor of a costly plan based on draft septic/sewer plan (the "Tier Map") produced by a lobby of land speculators slyly calling themselves the Balanced Growth Initiative, or "BGI." The draft "comp plan," and the draft Tiers Map would destroy the Mattawoman and maintain Charles County's position on the bottom rungs, but a majority of the Planning Commission passed both plans on to the elected Board of County Commissioners.

Comp Plan status At a packed public hearing before the Commissioners on October 29, 2013, citizens trounced draft Comp Plan, with speakers opposed 3 to 1. Written comments following the hearing were even more lopsided, with only 30 in support of the plan and 2000 opposed.

With such strong public opposition, the three commissioners who usually favor the developers' lobby BGI voted to appoint a special workgroup of their choosing to revise the Tier Map, and the Comp Plan if they had time (they didn't).
They then reversed their own workgroup's recommendations and forced the Tier Map now before the public.

What you can do:
-Attend and speak out at the May 13 Public Hearing on the new Tier Map.
Please sign the petition
at the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County.
-Like the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County Facebook page for frequent updates.
-Like the Facebook for the Mattawoman Watershed Society to receive updates.

Learn more:

-Check out the presentation (pdf) explaining how present and past comp plans have put Charles County on the bottom rungs in Maryland for many issues, even as they are destroying our great outdoors.
-See land-use issues under "Our Issues." 

-See Video of informed testimony on the comp plan by the Conservation Director of Maryland Bass Nation who knows 1st hand what's at stake

Maryland Wildands passes General Assembly!

The Maryland General Assembly passed on April 1st the first new wildland designations in twelve years. 

Two candidates among the 23 new nominations directly affect Mattawoman Creek: the Mattawoman Expansion and Chapman Forest Wildlands. Please be prepared to support this important initiative to better protect the "best of the best" of our public lands. Read about it here.

Learn more:
-The Wildlands program described by the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service.

-Download a brochure about the Mattawoman Expansion & Chapman Forest Wildlands.

-Download MWS testimony to the Maryland General Assembly.


Click each title for more information

  • MWS presents at 7th Stream Roundtable The Mattawoman Watershed Society presented "Citizen Monitoring Activities" at the 7th Stream Roundtable held in Annopolis on February 27, 2014. The roundtable is sponsored by the Maryland Water Monitoring Council ...
    Posted Mar 3, 2014, 9:07 AM by
  • MWS participates at River Herring Workshop On February, 6, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center held a workshop on the conservation and monitoring of River Herring in the Chesapeake Bay. MWS provided a history of spawning-usage ...
    Posted Feb 9, 2014, 4:24 AM by
  • MWS Accepted into the Herring Alliance The Herring Alliance, a coalition working to protect wildlife and ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast, has accepted the Mattawoman Watershed Society as a member organization. Founded by the Pew Environmental ...
    Posted Jan 18, 2014, 9:03 AM by
  • Maryland Native Plant Society Conservation Watch Much of the land that sheds water to Mattawoman, and the waters themselves, still harbor remarkable plant communities. As outlined in this MNPS article, all is threatened by a poor ...
    Posted Jan 1, 2014, 9:03 AM by
  • Salty freshwater streams?! Winter brings on the use of salty road treatments for safety. Recent research shows that rivers and streams are saltier as a result. This may explain why fewer River Herring ...
    Posted Dec 22, 2013, 7:31 AM by
  • Bass anglers testify for Mattawoman At the Oct. 29th hearing, bass anglers brought their boats to show how concerned they were for the future of Mattawoman Creek. Included were Scott Sewell, Conservation Director of Maryland ...
    Posted Jan 18, 2014, 8:17 AM by
  • Bay Journal on Charles' Comp Plan MD agencies criticize Charles County's draft comprehensive plan Read an article about state cabinet heads who have called Charles County to the woodshed about the destructive draft plan "that ...
    Posted Nov 2, 2013, 11:16 AM by
  • Baltimore Sun on Charles' Comp Plan State, Charles County at odds over growth plan Learn about the controversy over Charles County's blueprint for growth in this article. As the hearing on October 29 showed, the ...
    Posted Nov 2, 2013, 8:10 AM by
  • MWS wins poster contest! The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Bay Trust awarded Best Poster to the Mattawoman Watershed Society at the 8th annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum held in September at Shepherdstown ...
    Posted Oct 13, 2013, 9:51 AM by
  • Cabinet secretaries condemn land-use plan The draft Comprehensive Plan for Charles County earns rebuke from 13 state agencies, as explained in this blog from the Bay Journal. Speak out at the Oct 29 hearing for ...
    Posted Oct 4, 2013, 4:07 PM by
Showing posts 1 - 10 of 21. View more »


More information here.

Public Hearing!

Tier-Map Growth Plan

Don't miss it!

May 13  6:30 PM
Come early to sign in.

Charles County Government Building, La Plata

Map (pdf) to government building here.

Conserving Maryland's High Quality Waters - From Monitoring to Action

The Maryland Water Monitoring Council conference was held on December 5. MWS and the Maryland Fisheries Service presented a poster: What lurks in the submerged aquatic vegetation?

It reported our volunteer work assisting the Dept. of Natural Resources to measure dissolved oxygen levels in the estuary. Surprisingly, oxygen levels were low in the "SAV" beds, especially near shore.

Co-authors Jim Long (president of MWS) and Margaret McGinty (DNR fisheries biologist) pose with the poster.
Photo: Bonnie Bick