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The commissioners need to support the watershed conservation district

To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Science tells us that climate change is real and happening now. How we deal with climate change is politics.

Science tells us that protecting our natural resources is one of the most important steps we can take to mitigate the effects of climate change. One of our nation’s greatest natural resources is the Chesapeake Bay. The rivers, creeks and streams that literally define Charles County eventually flow into the bay, giving us the responsibility and obligation to protect these waterways.

Recognizing the importance of a healthy Chesapeake Bay, in 2009, President Obama made the political decision to issue Executive Order 13508 Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration. This order acknowledges that to restore the health of the bay requires a renewed commitment to controlling pollution from all sources as well as protecting and restoring habitat and living resources, conserving lands, and improving management of natural resources. The good news is that the efforts to restore the health of the bay are working. While we still have a long way to go, data shows an improvement in water quality, sub-aquatic vegetation, and the oyster population. Some have even seen dolphins swimming in the Potomac off our county’s shore.

The bad news is that President Trump has made the political decision to deny climate science, and gut the Clean Water Act and EPA.

On the local level, our 2016 Comprehensive Plan includes a policy objective to protect the Mattawoman Creek Watershed and the head of the Port Tobacco River for the longterm value to the community, its ecological, recreational and economic value and as a sustainable natural resource.

Recognizing the importance of these two bay tributaries and to implement the comprehensive plan, in 2017 the Board of County Commissioners made the political decision to create the Watershed Conservation District.

The good news is that the WCD is working to control sprawl development, limit impervious surfaces, protect our natural resources, and preserve lands. The fear that the WCD would have a devastating effect on property values is not supported by the facts.

The bad news is that the Board of County Commissioners is poised to approve zoning text amendment #19-155 to substantially reduce some of the provisions of the Watershed Conservation District. This is a political decision: The BOC, Democrats all, can vote to support the policies of the WCD, informed by science, that are working to protect the bay, or they can vote to emulate President Trump who eviscerated the successful policies of his predecessor, President Obama.