There’s been a lot of complaining and finger-pointing at government and regulatory agencies for forcing pollution diets, punishing watermen, strangling agriculture, and such recently. But in reality, there’s an awful lot of bottom-up government going on.
Take the Watershed Implementation Plan, for instance. Forced by the EPA to develop state-wide plans to address water pollution in the Bay, the seven states in the Chesapeake watershed have been hustling to develop their Phase 2 plans by the March 30th deadline. Maryland’s plan is devised from individual county plans, and those plans are being made by your neighbors, right here in Talbot County. The draft plans are open now for public comment until March 9th. Have you read your county’s draft Watershed Implementation Plan? Now is your chance to get acquainted with it. Click here.
The blue crab fishery offers another example of bottom-up regulations in the works. In 2010, the Department of Natural Resources convened the Blue Crab Design Team, made up of individuals from waterman’s associations around the state, representatives from the seafood packing and restaurant industries as well as the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fisherman’s Association. With a mandate to create crabbing regulations that are responsive to both government and the industry, this design team is creating policy based on the knowledge and experience of local watermen. This is a big change from traditional top-down state regulations.
Third, the Talbot County Planning Commission is undertaking an extreme bottom-up process in order to ensure that the 22 villages that make up this county each have plans and zoning regulations that make sense for each individual village – no small feat. Given size and locations, commercial zones or not, each Village in Talbot has a unique set of circumstances and realities. Talbot County’s long range planning staff are helping Talbot citizen groups to create 22 distinct, individual, specific zoning plans for each of those 22 villages in Talbot County. Herein lies our future growth, guided by local voices.
The Spy will take a close look at each of these bottom-up endeavors, and watch the process as our neighbors create the policies with which we’ll all be living in the future. Government is shifting to be more responsive and inclusive. You’re invited. Are you participating?