Debate Over Md. DNR Project Hits State Level - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Debate Over Md. DNR Project Hits State Level

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MADISON, Md.- A group of boats made their way to the barge in the Little Choptank River on Tuesday, but this time it wasn't to protest.  They were carrying state and county officials to take samples of the fossilized shell being spread in the river.

State Sen. Richard Colburn, Dorchester County Councilman Tom Bradshaw, Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips, Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Director Tom O'Connel, and David Goshorn, Assistant Secretary of Aquatic Resources were on the boats. 

The biggest argument against the shells is that they do not appear to be clean, despite being screened in Florida before they were shipped north.  Bradshaw says he was originally shown a much cleaner version of what is being spread in the Little Choptank, and wants to find out what is different about this shipment. 

"I still don't believe in putting foreign materials down in our own waters.  Hopefully we can get this stuff tested and find out what's on it, in it, and what it's supposed to be." said Bradshaw.

Several buckets full of the shell were taken as samples from what little was left on the barge after several days of dumping.  Along with those samples came some hard questions from Colburn.

"Crabs have not come out of the mud yet.  Can we at least agree on that, that some of them are still buried in the mud?" the senator asked.

"I'm not gonna say that 100 percent of the crabs have moved but what the science has showed that when the water temperature hits the low 50s, the crabs become active again, and the water temperature is already in the mid to upper 50s right now," O'Connel replied. 

Goshorn said that because the shells are fossils, he does not believe there is a risk of disease despite the sediment cloud coming off of the shells when they are dumped in the river. 

Both groups agreed that there needs to be more conversation in the future, and Colburn requested that the DNR take the watermen's advice on where to spread the shells in the future to avoid covering up viable bottom.
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