(Sept. 4, 2020) The Maryland Coastal Bays Program is no exception to budget tightening during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kevin Smith, director of Maryland Coastal Bays Program, briefed the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday on a virtual policy meeting that will take place on Oct. 15. The goal of the policy committee meeting is to discuss recent accomplishments, activities, priorities and goals. 

Kevin smith

Kevin Smith 

“Our main purpose is really water quality and environmental health in the coastal bays,” Smith said. “We know that the environmental health of the coastal bays is really a cornerstone, the foundation, of the economic engine that is Worcester County.” 

Smith told commissioners that Coastal Bay’s water quality monitoring program will be one of the main issues. It has been primarily funded by the state Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources. 

“As we go into our 25th year and budgets begin to tighten, and I expect that they’re going to tighten even further, we’re going to see some reduction in our monitoring efforts, which is going to affect us in the sense that we’re not going to know necessarily how clean our waterways are,” Smith said. 

He added that the United States Geological Survey recently shut down its stream gauge on Birch Branch in the St. Martin’s area. It was the only stream gauge in the coastal bay area of Worcester County. 

“Stream gauges are really important in the sense that they tell us how much water we have, how much flow is going to have through the system during different storms and things like that,” Smith said. 

He emphasized that the job of the coastal bays program is to protect, preserve and enhance natural resources, as well as to educate the public. 

“We have a great staff of about 10 folks who do that through environmental education, through enhancement projects and restoration projects and other ways of getting out to the public and making sure they understand what the health of the coastal bay means to them,” Smith said. 

The policy committee meeting is open to the public at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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