Bay Journal

March 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 1

Runoff is target in administration’s clean water plan

The Clinton administration has proposed updated clean water legislation that would require stronger efforts to control runoff from farms and other land uses while prompting states to develop strategies that would protect water quality throughout entire watersheds.

President Clinton called for passage of a new Clean Water Act in his State of the Union address, and on Feb. 1 EPA Administrator Carol Browner unveiled the administration’s proposal. It contains new initiatives to control toxics and gives states greater flexibility to use federal loans in new ways, such as stream restoration. But what may be most significant is its new regulations to control nonpoint source pollution, which looms as the major threat to the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of water. ...

Survey finds widespread conservation activities by MD farmers

Nearly half of Maryland farmers who responded to a recent survey had reduced their use of fertilizer and pesticides in the past three years and had put aside an average of 67 acres per farm for conservation uses such as wetlands, woodlands, lakes, streams, and ponds.

The Maryland Farm Bureau undertook the survey to gain baseline information about voluntary conservation practices undertaken by farmers — many of which are not tracked by government agencies — and to help show the public that farmers are working to protect the environment, said Dennis Stolte, the Farm Bureau environmental resources specialist who coordinated the survey. ...

Schaefer calls for faster action by Maryland farmers

Unless farmers do more to help clean up the Bay — and soon — Maryland may have to resort to mandatory programs to get farmers to adopt runoff control practices on their land, Gov. William Donald Schaefer warned recently.

In the past, Schaefer has always supported a voluntary approach to controlling farm runoff, but in comments to members of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, the governor said he was not satisfied with the progress that has been made.

“I was advised a couple of years ago to go with volunteerism and I did because I believe in asking a person to help out; I believe in volunteering to meet the standards that are so necessary,” Schaefer said. “But when you’re not doing it — and I’m sure most all the farmers here are because you’re the good ones — then we’ve got to take some other measures.” ...

USDA plans to make Bay region a national model for agriculture / Agriculture department agrees to increase role in the Bay Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bay Program have signed an agreement that is intended to make the region a “model” of how the department can promote “both environmentally and economically sound practices.”

A major part of the department’s effort will be attempting to coordinate efforts of its own agencies, along with state and local agencies, to more holistically address environmental issues related to farming.

“As the lead federal agency in planning and implementing conservation and forestry management programs in the watershed, the Department of Agriculture must be a strong participant in this endeavor,” Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes said at the signing ceremony for the agreement. “No other federal agency can reach as many landowners with efforts to implement on-the-ground actions.” ...

Bay, environmental programs, fare well in ’95 budget

In a tight budget that recommends spending cuts for most federal departments, the Bay Program — as well as environmental programs in general — emerged winners in President Clinton’s spending plan for the 1995 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The EPA’s budget request earmarks $20.85 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, up slightly from the $20.81 appropriated by Congress for the current fiscal year. “The good new here is that in tough times the Bay Program is holding its own or getting ahead a little bit,” said Jon Capacasa, deputy director for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office. ...

46 bald eagles observed spending winter in Maryland

The 146 bald eagles spotted in Maryland during an annual midwinter survey was the fourth highest on record since the survey began in 1979, a year when observers recorded only 44 sightings of the nation's symbol.

The American eagle was placed under protection of federal law in 1967 because it was in danger of extinction. The eagle population had been declining since the 1940s largely because the pesticide DDT interfered with its reproduction. The EPA ordered a halt to DDT use in 1972.

In recent years, the population of eagles has grown in America, which has prompted discussion on a national level about whether to reduce the eagle’s protected status from endangered to threatened, wildlife researchers said. ...

Defining the Bay’s toxic problems / New report offers overview of toxic sources and impacts

From acenaphthene to zirconium, more than 1,000 toxic substances have been detected in, released into, or applied to the water, soil, and air of the Chesapeake Bay basin.

These substances have been detected in the water or sediments, sampled in finfish or shellfish tissue, found in atmospheric deposition, documented as having been released through industrial or municipal discharges, monitored in urban runoff, spilled from ships, or applied as pesticides.

They can be lumped into two broad categories: metals, which occur naturally, and organics, which are manmade chemicals. In great enough quantities — and under the right conditions — they can kill. In lesser amounts, they may cause sublethal effects such as reproduction problems or tumors — or they may have no impact at all. ...

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