America’s Most Endangered Rivers®: 2009 Edition

#4 Mattawoman Creek, Maryland

Threat: Proposed Highway
Partners: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Maryland Bass Federation Nation

Mattawoman Creek is one of the few tidal, freshwater tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay that remain healthy and unspoiled. Although Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has concluded that Mattawoman should be protected from overdevelopment, a proposed highway in Charles County threatens the creek’s clean water and popular fishing and recreation opportunities. Unless the Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deny a key wetland permit for the proposed highway, Maryland will lose this treasured gem and the goal of a healthy Chesapeake Bay will slip further from reach. Learn More

UPDATE (October 2009): Mattawoman Creek continues to be threatened by overdevelopment.  The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are still considering applications for key permits needed for the Cross County Connector extension (CCC-ex).  The agencies must deny these permits for the proposed highway. 

In May, MDE postponed a decision on the highway to assess information provided by Charles County.  That the state has not issued a permit reflects the public pressure brought by those opposing the highway.  In addition, the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County issued a report, Trouble Ahead—Use Alternate Routes, highlighting the threats to Mattawoman by the highway proposal, the growth it would induce, and smart-growth alternatives that would protect the creek and help the county prosper. 

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, has held two hearings on reauthorizing the Chesapeake Bay Program, listed in the Clean Water Act, which would increase protection of the healthy Mattawoman watershed.  Moving forward, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley must publicly advocate Smart Growth rail alternatives to the proposed Cross County Connector in order to save this Chesapeake treasure.

(January 2010): The Interior Department announces that they oppose granting permits for the project due to environmental concerns. The decision is still pending.