To improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, the state of Maryland requires Harford County to eliminate 222,440 pounds of nitrogen per year from our waterways by 2025. This is a daunting task, considering in the last four years the amount of nitrogen entering Harford’s streams and rivers has increased by 14,000 pounds per year from urban and suburban areas. Likewise, phosphorus and sediment loads have also increased annually.
(Note: All estimates above were calculated for non-federal land using the Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool version 2017d, also known as the “Bay Model," and are based on county and state level annual progress reports submitted to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Used comparison of 2019, 2025 and WIP 3 reports pulled under CAST 2017d version.)
Reversing forest loss and protecting wetlands are vital to maintaining local and regional water quality. If Harford County is serious about protecting the beauty and health of our rivers and Bay, we must begin to implement planned pollution reduction strategies. Investing in these mitigation efforts in developed areas is projected to conservatively cost county taxpayers $22 million dollars per year. The State is currently spending millions of tax dollars to re-forest streams and restore wetlands to achieve these goals.
In light of this information, it is exceedingly puzzling that the County Executive and County Council are facilitating the destruction of 300 acres of old growth forest and 1.4 acres of nontidal wetlands, buffers and intermittent stream, known as Abingdon Woods. Though the property was zoned industrial 30 years ago, our knowledge of the essential services this forest provides has increased. We are now aware that the forest is providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in pollution reduction services that taxpayers will incur if it is lost.
Approving this project flies in the face of Harford County’s stated water quality and land use goals and will result in higher taxes and a lower quality of life for citizens. In fact, the only beneficiaries of this project are the developers. We would hope that our elected officials would work to purchase this valuable property rather than develop it. It is ludicrous to contend that planting an equivalent area of saplings in another location will mitigate the loss of this forest and wetlands.
If you believe that the environmental health of our county is more important than another unnecessary business park, please contact your county representative and demand that they work in the best interest of citizens and not developers.
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