(Sept. 6, 2019) Following a request from Sen. Ben Cardin (D), Worcester County Environmental Programs will suggest local projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage.
According to Worcester County’s Director of Environmental Programs, Bob Mitchell, Cardin cannot directly call for funding on specific local projects, but he can advocate to fund the corps’ general program budgets that manage those projects.
Mitchell suggested several ongoing projects to the Worcester County Commissioners during their Tuesday meeting: the inlet navigational improvement project, the scour hole study, the Assateague Island restoration activities and the national maintenance dredging. Though these projects are already underway, Mitchell said it may be useful for Cardin to know about them in case any obstacles arise.
“That maintenance dredging money, it’s not always a guarantee, so it may be helpful to put that on the senator’s radar,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell highlighted that the special dredging material is important on a local, state and federal level. He said that the “beneficial use of dredged materials include restoration of underwater grasses, restoration of islands, stabilization of eroding shorelines, replenishment of beach areas, creation of restoration of wetlands and creation, restoration or enhancement of fish or shellfish habitats.” The dredging materials can be re used for similar projects, which Mitchell intends to state in the memo to Cardin.
Mitchell also listed projects that do not yet have a sponsor: restoring the eroded northern tip of Assateague Island, reshaping jetties off that same tip, as well as a “return” to prevent future damage and supplying dredged materials to supply resiliency projects and islands in Assawoman and Sinepuxent Bays.
Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic moved to approve suggesting the projects and Commissioner Bud Church seconded. Commissioner Chip Bertino questioned whether Assateague Island could be brought back to what it was, highlighting that it currently looks like a cliff.
“You could certainly do it with some the material,” Mitchell said. “It’s whether they could get included and tagged in these projects.”
Mitchell said it’s important to make congressional delegates “aware of how federal monies are important to local governmental priorities.”