Date of Award

1987

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

An evaluation of a federal regulatory program administered by the Baltimore District Corps of Engineers (COE), governing certain development activities in Maryland's coastal zone, was conducted to (1) identify cumulative development and wetland impact outcomes that occurred over a 5-year (1981-1985) period; and (2) assess a component of the decision-making process that resulted in these outcomes. This study focuses specifically on program coordination between the COE and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to evaluate how the process has been affected by (1) programmatic changes resultant of the Reagan Administration's regulatory reform; and (2) societal demands as indicated by changes in coastal development. Evaluative results not only help to identify district/regional-level program deficiencies, but also to emphasize changes necessary to improve federal agency policies. Effectiveness of interagency coordination between the COE and NMFS in the public interest review was contingent upon the extent to which NMFS recommendations ("conservation efforts") were accepted by the COE. Conservation effort values were based on (1) ranked wetland habitats; (2) the magnitude of habitat impact; and (3) areal extent of habitat NMFS desired to conserve. Coordination effectiveness between the COE and NMFS in the public interest review was not significantly affected by decreasing mean annual permit processing time that occurred over the 5-year period. NMFS' conservation efforts were adversely affected by (1) reform measures shifting the "burden of proof" to the resource agencies; and (2) the declining quality of interagency joint-permit processing. Manpower limitations and subjective value judgments made by NMFS staff were other probably indirect influential factors. Measures to improve the effectiveness of interagency coordination and to better approximate a balanced public interest review are discussed. Outcome evaluation identified similar development patterns among Maryland's four coastal regions. Regions were comprised of coastal counties experiencing both nodal and diffuse development. Counties were often characterized by specific types of development. Private marinas, especially "docominiums" and wildlife enhancement impoundments are two development activities significantly increasing in Maryland. Projects authorized by the Baltimore District COE resulted in the loss of 913.1 acres of vegetated and non-vegetated coastal wetlands, alteration of 1280.8 acres of estuarine sub-tidal habitats, and a gain of 687.9 new wetland acres. Estuarine irregularly flooded emergent and palustrine forested wetlands sustained the greatest habitat losses. Significant percentages of wetland losses were attributed to a limited number of large major impacts.