Bay Journal

January 1994 - Volume 3 - Number 10

Bay bounces back from record-setting spring ‘freshet’

 Monitoring data is slowly beginning to paint a picture of what happened during the spring 1993 “freshet,” which pumped billions of gallons of fresh water into the Chesapeake Bay.

The amount of water from rain and snowmelt that flowed down the Susquehanna River last April was the highest ever recorded. It reduced salinity levels in much of the Bay through July. And scientists studying the Atlantic Ocean last summer found a plume of low salinity water stretching 50 miles from the mouth of the Bay. ...

Housing project marries low-income and low-impact development

The small town of Lexington, VA, has big plans for a 4-acre plot of land officials have wanted to develop since the late ’90s — but not into big houses.

In fact, some of the two-dozen homes being built on the lots will measure just 950 square feet as the development’s partners aim to provide much-needed housing for low-income residents.

The big idea is in the project’s other and equal goal: to demonstrate the best in low-impact development and stormwater management in an area of the watershed that’s not often the focus of such efforts.

Get away from it all, including crowds, at VA Northern Neck’s Belle Isle

Belle Isle State Park is not the most visited park in Virginia. It’s not the largest. It doesn’t have the longest history. And it is certainly not the closest to the state’s metro areas.

All the more reason to plan a visit now — before the Northern Neck’s best-kept secret gets out.

Belle Isle’s 739 acres meander through farm fields, past warm season grasses full of marsh hawks. Eagles are here, as are herons, skunks, rabbits and plenty of deer. At the southwest end of the park is the Rappahannock, the broad and mighty river that thunders down the western shore of Virginia, giving the necks their distinctive shape. To the north of the park is Mulberry Creek, and to the southeast, Deep Creek — both ideal for launching canoes and kayaks. Don’t own one? Belle Isle staff will rent visitors a canoe or kayak complete with a life vest.

Shutdown is slowing down Bay Program work

With the federal government shutdown dragging into its third week, efforts to advance various Bay related activities have also come to a halt, or at best a crawl.

Most jeopardized may be a new Chesapeake Bay Agreement that officials had hoped to complete by the end of the year. The timeline to complete the agreement was already tight, and a three weeks or more delay could make that impossible.

Afternoon conjures up golden age of eastern meadowlarks

Today’s factory farming of chicken broilers occurs inside sleek, white Quonset hut-type structures. The chicken house we were looking at this afternoon was definitely from an earlier era. It was made of wood, and it was caving in on itself. The long, gray, weathered walls undulated, revealing the condition of the rotting timbers inside. Here and there the roof had collapsed, allowing the late summer sun to illuminate the decay within.

The open space in front of the coop was overgrown with meadow grasses and chickweed. We watched a flock of busy grassland birds probe the soil with their long sharp bills. The birds were half-hidden in the long grasses, but their constant movements in search of insects made them easy enough to follow.

West Virginia poultry farmer sues EPA to clarify CAFO regulations

Lois Alt is a trained electrician, a proud West Virginian, a loving mother and a doting grandmother.

She also happens to be the little lady who started the next big chicken war.

Alt, 61, is suing the EPA after inspectors visiting her Old Fields farm in 2011, found her in violation of the Clean Water Act, and ordered her to obtain a discharge permit for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO. CAFOs are regulated as a point source of pollution, much like a sewage treatment plant is.

Now’s the time to take action against urban/suburban runoff

We are making progress reducing pollution from agricultural lands and sewage treatment plants. But polluted runoff from urban and suburban streets, parking lots, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces keeps increasing.

Polluted runoff from urban and suburban areas creates flooding, can threaten human health and carries toxic chemicals into local waterways. In developed areas, it can be a significant contributor to the impairment of streams and rivers.

For example, in Anne Arundel County, MD, the Public Works Department estimates that runoff from city streets and suburban parking lots contributes more 880,000 pounds of nitrogen pollution to local waterways every year. This is more than the nitrogen pollution from agriculture and septic systems combined.

Industry groups to appeal decision upholding Bay cleanup plan

Farm groups and homebuilders are appealing a federal district court ruling last month that upheld the EPA’s “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay

The groups filed paperwork Monday to appeal the Sept. 13 ruling by federal District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo, which stated that the EPA was operating within its Clean Water Act authority when it issued the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load in December 2010 which set limits on the amount of nutrients and sediment that can enter the Bay.

New program to aid private sector nutrient training

 The Bay Program is making it easier for agricultural-related businesses and industry to participate in the restoration of the Bay and help protect water quality by developing nutrient management training and certification in the watershed.

Its Model Bay Area Nutrient Management Training and Certification Program provides a standard framework to guide each of the Bay states — Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania — in their efforts to enlist, train, and certify individuals from the private and public sectors to write farm nutrient management plans. ...

Potomac group gets a flying start

 A new organization working to protect the Potomac River got off to a big start in December by organizing a huge cleanup — the removal of four, 50-foot girders, each weighing 6,300 pounds, from an island near the American Legion Bridge outside Washington.

Exactly how the girders, considered the biggest pieces of trash in the river, got there is a mystery. But the newly formed Potomac Conservancy arranged to have a helicopter lift the girders and haul them downriver where they were loaded onto trucks and hauled off for recycling. ...

Virginia moves to restrict blue crab dredging

 The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has adopted a pair of measures aimed at reducing fishing pressure on the blue crab as part of an effort to comply with a Baywide management plan that calls for stabilizing the economically important crab fishery, which has grown dramatically in recent years.

The commission approved measures that would limit the number of people participating in the blue crab dredge fishery and backed a proposal that would lower the daily dredge catch limit per boat from 25 barrels to 20 barrels. ...

PA’s pilot energy efficiency program could aid the Bay

 The EPA has launched an initiative to show businesses in the Washington-Baltimore region that they can cut their utility bills by investing in energy-saving lights and computers, and by making their buildings more energy efficient.

The area was designated an “Energy Star Region” Nov. 1 as part of an effort to intensively promote three of the agency’s voluntary energy efficiency programs — Green Lights, Energy Star Buildings, and Energy Star Computers — in one geographic region. ...

Bay trends show phosphorus drop; nitrogen holds steady

A trend analysis of the first eight years of nutrient data collected by the Bay Program’s monitoring program has found a significant decline in phosphorus concentrations in Chesapeake waters, but no change in nitrogen concentrations or the amount of oxygen in the water.

Trend analyses are important tools because they provide a gauge by which progress toward restoring the Bay can be measured. The findings seem to verify estimates of nutrient loads by the states and the Bay Program which indicate more progress has been made in controlling phosphorus than nitrogen. The new analysis, which will presented in a soon-to-be-published report, analyzed data collected from 1984 to 1992. ...

York River experiment finds Japanese oysters resist diseases

Japanese oysters appear to be resistant to the two oyster diseases that have devastated native oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay — a finding that may boost efforts to find a disease-resistant gene that could aid the native species.

The finding came from a controversial experiment that began June 29 when trays containing 200 Japanese oysters and 400 Bay oysters were placed in the York River.

Since then, researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences found that 95 percent of the native eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, died from the diseases MSX and Dermo. None of the Japanese oysters, Crassostrea gigas, died as the result of disease. ...

Recommendations of the Oyster Roundtable

Baywide

MSX and Dermo:

Monitor the prevalence and intensity of MSX and Dermo; develop a process for certifying seed oysters as free of MSX and Dermo; minimize the possibility of spreading MSX and Dermo through transplantation of seed oysters, including through the repletion program; conduct targeted research; initiate pilot field programs to plant and test strains of the eastern oyster not native to the Bay.

Habitat/Water Quality: ...

Divergent groups sign onto MD ‘action plan’ to save oysters

In an effort to find some way to restore healthy oyster stocks in Maryland’s portion of the Bay, representatives of long-warring interest groups have put aside their differences and agreed upon a wide range of actions to help the beleaguered bivalve.

The 40-member panel brought together by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources signed an “action plan” in December that recommended dozens of actions relating to aquaculture, research, and the creation of special “recovery areas.” ...

Related News:

York River experiment finds Japanese oysters resist diseases

Recommendations of the Oyster Roundtable

Congress approves bill to protect migratory fish

A measure that gives fish conservation efforts from Maine to Florida the kind of legal clout credited with restoring striped bass stocks in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast has become law. The Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act will require East Coast states to enact management plans for “interjurisdictional fisheries” — those stocks which migrate across state borders — that have been developed by the Atlantic State’s Marine Fisheries Commission. Any state that fails to enact conservation measures will risk a federally enforced moratorium. ...

Bay toxics effort to target ‘regions of concern’

Finding evidence of nutrient impacts on the Bay is easy: Take a boat out during the spring and look for algae blooms. Huge blooms, caused by excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen, reduce water quality and degrade habitats.

Finding impacts from toxic substances, by contrast, is a different story. A trip out in the Bay may find measurable concentrations of metals or organic contaminants, but no indication of their impacts. And just measuring those contaminants in a water sample could cost up to $1,400. ...

Sneads Farm Asparagus Festival May 27-29 in Fredericksburg, VA

Opinion

Ernst Conservation Seeds: Restoring the Native Balance.
Tour dem Parks, hon.

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