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Maryland Sets Positive Precedent for Improving Fishing Access

Jim J

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Maryland Sets Positive Precedent for Improving Fishing Access

Bill to improve recreational access along bridges and roads signed into law

Lack of access to fishable waters is commonly cited as one of the top concerns among anglers. In an effort to help turn the tide and provide better public access to Maryland’s thousands of miles of rivers, streams and shorelines, Governor O’Malley recently signed into law a bill (HB 797) to promote safe recreational fishing, canoe and kayak access along the state’s bridges and roads. This is a tremendous victory for anglers and can be used as a model for other states to incorporate. KeepAmericaFishing™ wishes to thank the legislators, fishing and conservation organizations, and interested citizens who helped support this bill’s passage. KeepAmericaFishing members supported this legislation and we thank you for helping make passage possible.

Maryland’s 10,000 miles of rivers and streams, as well as its 4,000 miles of tidal shoreline, can be difficult to access because adjacent roads and bridges can lack safe shoulders, pull-off areas or parking. These areas often were constructed without regards to access and angler safety. Oftentimes access can be provided at minimal or no cost, but is not incorporated in project planning.

HB 797 addresses this problem and will enhance waterway access by requiring state and local transportation departments to consider providing, where reasonable and cost-effective, waterway access in roadway construction or reconstruction projects.

Before being signed into law by the Governor, this non-controversial, bipartisan and cost-effective legislation passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming 130-3 margin and the Senate by 47-0 margin. The bill was supported by KeepAmericaFishing, the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy, Maryland Bass Angler’s Sportsmen’s Society, and many other fishing and conservation organizations, as well as the Maryland Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources.

HB 797 would help promote outdoor recreational opportunities for families; greatly improve safety for recreational users and motorists alike; help stimulate the economies and livability of local communities; and enhance the health and quality of life of our citizens. KeepAmericaFishing looks forward to working with other state legislatures and transportation agencies to incorporate this beneficial and non-controversial legislation throughout the country.

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