A highway and development threatening Mattawoman Creek in Maryland has caused this “gem” of the Chesapeake watershed to earn the number four spot on American River’s 2009 list of Most Endangered Rivers in the United States.
Mattawoman Creek is considered one of the few remaining healthy streams in the region. Located within extensive forests in the fast-growing southern Maryland region, Mattawoman is known for its clean waters and multi-million dollar largemouth bass fishery. The creek is also a key destination for migratory fish like shad, alewife and yellow perch. Populations of some of these species are more than 40 times higher in Mattawoman than in other Bay tributaries.
But its health could be in jeopardy because of a proposed extension to the Charles County Cross County Connector that would cut across the creek’s watershed, according to the American Rivers report. The Army Corps of Engineers has stated that intense development of the watershed would have “severe repercussions on the biological community and would decrease the habitat quality within the estuary.”
The project could also lead to losses of the county’s economically valuable “natural infrastructure”: the healthy forests, wetlands and floodplains that filter polluted runoff, protect homes from flooding and help improve the Bay’s overall health.
The Maryland Department of the Environment is expected to make a decision on the permit for the Charles County Connector within the next few weeks.
Each year, American Rivers chooses 10 rivers from across the U.S. that are facing the most uncertain futures for its Endangers Rivers list. American Rivers solicits nominations for the most endangered rivers from thousands of river groups, environmental organizations, local governments and everyday citizens.
Visit the American Rivers website to learn more about the Endangered Rivers List.