County Executive Robert R. Neall has joined the effort to preserve Jabez Branch, a small, endangered trout stream near Gambrills.
In May, Neall publicly ordered county attorneys to throw the book at a Hog Farm Road property owner for illegally dumping raw sewage on the stream's banks. Earlier this week, the county sued the owner, demandinghe remove a pile of junk cars and storage tanks as well.
More quietly, Neall has promised to take steps to prevent uncontrolled development from consuming Jabez, the last naturally occurring brook trout stream in the area from Southern Maryland to Harford County. The stream flows into the headwaters of the Severn River.
County Planning Officer Owen White appointed a panel of environmentalists, residents and county planners this spring to weigh the county's options.
Last year, the Severn River Commission, a county-appointed advisory board, suggested the county establish a special development area around the Jabez, which would require developers to comply with specific environmental controls.
Commission members became concerned last year after learning a small subdivision, Heather Heights, had been proposed for a site adjacent to the stream without special attention to the environment. A proposal to expand an existing campground also worries commission members.
"I don't know where we are going with this," said Rodney Banks,a county environmental planner on the work group. "It may eventually lead to creating a special district or coming up with some other environmental policies."
Peg Burroughs, who represents Maryland Save Our Streams on the group, said she wantsto develop a management plan that, if successful on Jabez, could be applied to other county streams.
The study group, which meets every two weeks, has reviewed numerous state and private efforts to preserve Jabez. For example, Banks said, the Department of Natural Resources re-stocked Jabez this spring with more than 100 small brook trout.DNR biologists believe warm water running off roads and homes wiped out the stream's population of temperature-sensitive trout.