In Maryland, three departments are vitally concerned with the environment. Environmental protection is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment. Implementation of "smart growth" policies, which affect the environment, is conducted by the Department of Planning. Ensuring the preservation of Maryland's natural resources is part of the mandate of the Department of Natural Resources.
Floating wetlands (created by National Aquarium) with Mallard ducks, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland, June 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Planted with native species, floating wetlands help clean water, and provide habitat for marine life.
The Maryland Environmental Service provides water and wastewater treatment, solid waste management, composting, recycling, dredged material management, hazardous materials cleanup, and renewable energy consulting services for private industry and federal, State and local governments.
In 2020, the Maryland Park Service, in addition to maintaining the State's Parks, restored over 130 acres of habitat with tree plantings and pollinator habitat creation and, in an effort to improve water quality, administered stormwater projects.
Floating wetland (created by National Aquarium) in Patapsco River, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland, June 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
The General Assembly also addresses environmental concerns through the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, and the House Environment & Transportation Committee.
Eight environmental literacy standards have been required curricula in Maryland schools since 2011.
Skyline from Federal Hill, Baltimore, Maryland, May 2008. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Additional executive commissions and committees monitor environmental conditions and advise government agencies on environmental protection. These boards are as diverse as the Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee; the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays; the Executive Committee for Dredged Material Management Plans; the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities; the Hart-Miller-Pleasure Island Citizens Oversight Committee; and the Patuxent River Commission.
Skyline, townhouses & marinas on Patapsco River (view from Canton), Baltimore, Maryland, May 2002. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Based in Cambridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is affiliated with the Maryland Sea Grant College.
Some county and municipal governments also oversee local agencies concerned with the environment. Montgomery County, for example, has a Department of Environmental Protection, while the Bureau of Environmental Services in Howard County also oversees some planning functions. In Frederick County, Sustainability and Environmental Resources focuses on sustainability and watershed management, and offers practical ways to protect the environment and conserve energy.
Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene c. carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland, October 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Near Edgewater, in Anne Arundel County, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, serves as an educational center, and conducts research on ecosystems of coastal zones, including the Chesapeake Bay estuary.
Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland, April 2018. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, a nonprofit organization (partly funded by Baltimore City), has installed several wind- and solar-powered trash wheels to prevent trash from floating into the Inner Harbor as part of the "Healthy Harbor Initiative." The first wheel, Mr. Trash Wheel, was placed at the mouth of Jones Falls on May 9, 2014. The second wheel, Professor Trash Wheel, was installed in Harris Creek on December 4, 2016. The third solar-powered trash wheel, Captain Trash Wheel, began operating in Masonville Cove on June 5, 2018. The fourth wheel, Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West, was placed at the mouth of the Gwynns Falls on June 3, 2021. Since the first trash wheel's installation in 2014, the program has removed 1,561 tons of trash from Baltimore's waterways, which is then incinerated to generate electricity.
Mr. Trash Wheel, mouth of Jones Falls, Baltimore, Maryland, April 2016. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
The Maryland Coastal Bays Program assesses the health of Maryland's coastal bays, the bodies of water around Assateague Island and Ocean City. Assessments are made by measuring the progress of four water quality indicators (chlorophyll a, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, & phosphorus) and two biotic indicators (hard clams & seagrass) toward ecological goals.
Male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), near Tawes Garden, Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, Maryland, April 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
The Maryland Coastal Bays Program, along with the Integration and Application Network of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and the Department of Natural Resources, produce annual report cards on the health of Maryland's bays. The Chesapeake Bay and Watershed received an overall health score of 45%, a C, on its 2020 Report Card, an increase from 44% in 2019. The ratings are based on seven health indicators for the overall Chesapeake Bay and five indicators for the Watershed. While the Chesapeake Bay is in moderate health, its Watershed scored 60%, a B-, a sign of good health, in its first rating. Maryland's coastal bays received a "C+" grade on the Combined 2019 & 2020 Coastal Bays Report Card.
© Copyright November 15, 2021 Maryland State Archives