Bay Journal

Chesapeake Notebook

News, notes and observations from the Bay Journal staff.

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EPA chief calls Pennsylvania's lagging Bay cleanup "discouraging"

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged Wednesday that Pennsylvania had not done enough to control pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, and said that her agency needed to coordinate with agriculture officials to change the course.

Pennsylvania’s lack of progress is “discouraging at the very least,” McCarthy told hundreds of environmental activists, government officials and foundation leaders attending the Choose Clean Water Coalition conference in Annapolis.

“I need to talk to the USDA as well,” she added, to applause, “because there is work that needs to be done.”

Rona Kobell
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Prehistoric Native Americans harvested Bay oysters sustainably, study finds

Native Americans around the Chesapeake Bay may have lived hand to mouth in prehistoric times, but they apparently never got so desperate or greedy that they depleted a readily available food source: the estuary’s once-abundant oysters.

That’s the upshot of a new study looking at Bay oyster sizes and harvesting activity through the ages, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Chesapeake oysters, now depleted to 1 percent of what they were a century ago, showed remarkable resilience in the distant past, the authors found, despite intensive fishing, rising sea level and changing climate.

“That gives me hope we can find a way to restore oysters,” said Torben Rick, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, and lead author of the paper. He suggested that the researchers’ findings could offer insights for future management of the Bay’s oysters, which have been decimated in modern times by overharvesting, disease and habitat loss.

Timothy B. Wheeler
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Forget "the right people": Everyone deserves to see special places

Not long ago, the Bay Journal posted an article I wrote about Savage Neck Dunes, a wonderful preserve on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The article, which was written for Bay Journeys, has been shared online. I also wrote a blog post about it last year, after the visit, and shared some cool photos I took of downed trees. (For the Journeys article, we showcased Dave Harp’s beautiful photos, which show the diversity of plant life and the beautiful dunes.)

On a Facebook forum where the article was shared, a woman complained that, by writing about this special place, we were spoiling it. Already, she said, it had become overrun with people and trash - people who were not respecting its specialness.

Rona Kobell

Picture This

Tips from veteran Chesapeake Bay photographer Dave Harp about how to capture the perfect images from your outdoor travels.

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Pond paddle provides lovely setting for photos

I always try to get out and make some photos on the solstices and equinoxes,  and an assignment to illustrate a story about Trap Pond allowed me to chase the morning light there a few hours after this year’s Autumnal equinox.   It’s an amazingly beautiful patch of wild Delaware near Laurel and will be featured in the November issue of the Bay Journal.   The pond, created in the 18th century to power a saw mill to convert the trees into board feet of lumber,  is the epicenter of the northern most stand of bald cypress trees in the United States.   The relatively young trees in the middle of the pond were planted in the 1930’s when the water level  was drawn down to allow the trees to grow.    Once they’re heads are above the water they seem to do fine in an aquatic environment.  Be sure to look for a more complete story about Trap Pond State Park by Tom Horton in the November issue of the Bay Journal.

David Harp
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Want to take some really cool photos?

Bundle up and take advantage of the opportunities for great photos provided the the crisp air, and low angle of sunlight, during winter months.

David Harp
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Photographers’ reliable “standby”

While cameras have changed much over the past century, one ingredient of good photos has remained largely the same — the tripod.

David Harp

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