This file photo from Winter 2002 at Calvert Cliffs
State Park shows a fallen tree that supports a sign warning not to wander
further because of frequent landslides. (Photo: David Noss)
ANNAPOLIS (October 26, 2010)Marylands Cliff Erosion Steering Committee composed of local, state and federal government agencies today presented its draft report to the Calvert County Board of Commissioners. The report is the result of an 8-month effort to evaluate properties most likely to be impacted by shoreline erosion along cliffs in Calvert County and identify potential solutions for landowners.
While there is still much work to be done, we have developed a good road map of potential actions to assist landowners living along the Calvert County cliffs, which have been eroding for centuries, said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin who chaired the committee. I want to thank all the steering committee members for their hard work, and look forward to their continued collaboration as we move forward to tackle this extremely complex issue.
The Committee evaluated 234 houses located within 100 feet of the steep eroding cliffs along Calvert Countys Bay shoreline, 83 of which stand within 20 feet of the cliffs. More than half of those approximately 45 are located on cliffs inhabited by the Puritan tiger beetle, a federally threatened and state endangered species.
After assessing the shoreline, aerial maps, soil and environmental conditions, as well as historic erosion activity, the Committee confirmed that there are no proven solutions to stabilize the top of the cliffs where the homes are located. Stabilizing the toe or bank may slow erosion, but will not stop it.
The committees report outlined short, medium and long term solutions including:
conducting further site-specific investigation of houses within 20 feet of the cliffs to prioritize those that may be in immediate danger from the impact of erosion;
seeking federal pre-disaster mitigation funds through the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to assist property owners with relocation;
allowing incidental take of the Puritan tiger beetle within new guidelines currently being drafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
seeking federal assistance to identify comprehensive engineering solutions for cliff stabilization; and
seeking state and federal funds to protect Puritan tiger beetle habitat.
Governor Martin OMalley is working with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer to explore federal assistance options for the impacted residents. In a letter to the Senator and Congressman, Governor OMalley supported Calvert Countys request for emergency funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help implement some of steering committee recommendations, and requested assistance in expediting the Countys application. Pre-disaster mitigation funds could be used to help property owners with the costs of relocating their homes farther away from the cliffs, and to acquire easements or property from landowners willing to sell.
The draft report also recommends that State and county elected officials appoint a citizens advisory committee to work with the existing steering committee. An assessment will now be for undertaken Kent and Cecil Counties, which are facing similar issues.
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Chesapeake Bay Cliff Erosion in Calvert County, Draft Steering Committee Report
Presentation given to the Board of County Commissioners by Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources John Griffin