Opinion

State DNR is right to try to steward Quartermaster Harbor | Editorial

The state Department of Natural Resources is right to try to address the moorage situation in Quartermaster Harbor, where a sort of Wild West mentality has led to congested coves, navigational hazards and potential environmental harm.

The agency has documented nearly 200 unauthorized buoys and vessels in Quartermaster, a bay protected as a state aquatic reserve. Last year alone, DNR spent $32,000 removing derelict boats, vessels left to rot and sink by irresponsible owners.

Meanwhile, some boat owners are using old refrigerators, bathtubs or concrete blocks to anchor their vessels — a system of moorage that is often wholly inadequate and environmentally harmful. Chains encrusted by marine growth rise and fall with the tides, scraping the bottom of the bay and creating another source of degradation.

Should DNR’s draft management plan become law, it will mean boat owners will need to use a new kind of anchor system — costlier but far more effective in guarding against the kind of scouring along the bottom of the bay that’s happening now. It would also streamline the permitting process for a buoy, making what is now a cumbersome process far more efficient.

Clearly, as some pointed out at last week’s meeting, a more expensive buoy system would place boat-ownership increasingly out of reach for people of modest means. But DNR has an obligation to uphold state law and protect this bay — a nursery for herring and other forage fish, which in turn support dolphins, whales and more.

We hope Islanders embrace this plan — a step toward safeguarding an inland sea that has already suffered from decades of short-sighted human activities.

 

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