Unprotected Shoreline
Failures in Limiting Development Along the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays

Executive Summary

Pollution from a variety of sources, coupled with the rampant destruction of coastal wetlands, has degraded water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, harming wildlife and threatening Marylanders’ enjoyment of the bay. To protect water quality in the bay, Maryland adopted the Critical Area Act in 1984. Unfortunately, with weak enforcement mechanisms, broad loopholes, and 64 separate jurisdictions implementing their own standards, the Critical Area Act has failed to stop many irresponsible developments that continue to threaten the health of the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and Maryland’s Atlantic coastal bays. Addressing the shortcomings illustrated in this report could bolster Maryland’s ability to encourage development that protects the state’s natural resources.