The state has proposed new environmental regulations to protect a beleaguered trout stream in Gambrills.

If approved this spring, the regulations would restrict activity along the banks of the Jabez Branch, a Department of Natural Resources official said yesterday.

Frank Dawson, a section chief for DNR's non-tidal wetlands division, said the new rules would create a 100-foot buffer around the stream bank's non-tidal wetlands. Non-tidal wetlands provide habitats forwildlife and filter pollutants before storm-water runoff enters the stream, he said.

The state adopted its first non-tidal wetland regulations, creating 25-foot buffers, in 1989.

Under the new rules, the banks of the Jabez would become the 18th area in Anne Arundel designated a "non-tidal wetland of special state concern," Dawson said. The adjacent Severn Run Environmental Natural Area already is protected by 100-foot buffers, Dawson said. He said the Jabez' earlier omission was an "oversight."

The proposed rules will be advertised in the Maryland Register on Friday.

The Jabez -- a narrow, shallow stream at the headwaters of the Severn -- is the last naturally occurring brook trout stream in the coastal plain from Southern Maryland to Harford County. Although DNR officials say they still believe the stream can support the fish, biologists found no trout in the stream lastDecember.

Ken Yetman, a DNR biologist, said the loss of trees to development and road construction around the stream has hurt Jabez.

DNR scientists suspect that a pond in the Route 3 median strip -- which was created by highway workers who needed fill dirt to build Interstate 97 -- released hot, acidic water into the stream, Yetman said. The shock killed off the trout, he said.

The state will restock Jabez with brook trout this spring to determine if it can still support the fish, Yetman said.

"We're not talking about a lot of fish,"Yetman said. "We don't want anyone to think, 'Oh, this will be a great place to fish.' "

DNR officials announced plans in December to purchase 100 undeveloped acres bordering Jabez. And the Severn River Commission, a county advisory panel, is lobbying County Executive Robert R. Neall to create special restrictive zoning around the creek.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad