Bay Journal

July-August 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 5
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Blue catfish taking bite out of key species

A new study confirms that nonnative blue catfish around the Chesapeake have the potential to take a significant bite out of populations of important native species such as blue crabs and river herring.

The study examined the diets of blue catfish in portions of several Virginia tributaries and concluded they “may contribute to substantial losses of key fishery resources.”

Those losses could be “ecologically significant” for some species such as blueback herring, whose populations are already at low levels, the study concluded.

Bayscapes theme for Alliance annual, meeting, Annapolis tour

A successful program to restore the Chesapeake Bay - particularly as the region's population continues to grow - will depend upon citizens throughout the watershed taking individual actions that begin in their own backyards and gardens.

That is the message behind the BayScapes program, which was featured as part of a walking tour through gardens of Annapolis in conjunction with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's annual meeting June 10.

"It's a critical program to deal with us - people," said John Wolflin, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Chesapeake Bay Field Office, which helped develop BayScapes with the Alliance. "I can't think of a better way to start an environmental education program than in our own back yards." ...

VA Tidewater communities educating themselves on fracking issues

The Facebook page of Ruby Brabo, Dahlgren District’s county supervisor of King George County, VA, is all about communicating with her constituents: reminding them to “fall back” for the time change or reporting job postings or a minor school bus fender-bender that might delay their children’s getting home from school.

Brabo has also posted information about the number of leases sold by landowners in King George and counties to the east and south to Shore Exploration & Production Development Corp. of Dallas, TX, since 2011.

The leases convey mineral rights to deposits containing natural gas or oil that may lie 3,000–10,000 feet beneath their property in a geologic formation called the Taylorsville Basin.

Do not underestimate the power of citizen stewardship

I love the phrase, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Peter Levine, who wrote a book on civic renewal with that title, cites the poetry of June Jordan as the source of this phrase. It has been used in discussing both the civil rights and environmental movements. There are some parallels.

It is no secret that the Chesapeake needs our help. After 30 years of amazing science; new funding and incentive programs; regulations meant to affect all manner of land use; and just plain hard work to tackle lingering problems facing our rivers — we still have a way to go to reach our goal of a healthy Bay ecosystem.

Jones Fall Trail connects cyclists, walkers with Baltimore’s hidden gems

Baltimore is a city of contradictions.

Its neighborhoods are dense, filled with two-and three-story rowhouses that are neat and tidy in some neighborhoods, blighted and dilapidated in others. Gorgeous architecture peeks out from narrow alleyways. Old mills find new lives as art studios and restaurants but keep their rustic look, confusing passers-by who think that the city is still the manufacturing hub it once was.

Frank Hamons, MD port official who navigated stormy issues, retires

The son of a baseball scout, Frank Hamons moved dozens of times before graduating from college. Always the new kid at school, he learned quickly how to make friends so he could survive the next few months. He learned to take in the mood of a lunch table, lose the accent from wherever he lived last and defuse hostile situations.

Those lessons prepared the future deputy director of harbor development at the Maryland Port Administration well for his first days on the job in 1980. He walked into a battle over placing dredge material at Baltimore County’s Hart-Miller Island that was so contentious it went all the way to the Supreme Court. Always being the new kid also armed him well for the fights to come, from little skirmishes about the port’s projects to the all-out war on the disposal of dredge material in the open waters of the Chesapeake in the 1990s.

Record shad return reported in Susquehanna

More than 32,000 American shad swam up the Susquehanna River this spring, setting a new record for the 2-decade-old effort to return the migratory fish to what used to be its largest East Coast spawning ground.

The 32,330 shad captured in the fish lift at the Conowingo Dam was up sharply from the 13,500 caught last year and surpassed the previous record of 27,200 set in 1991. The fish lift quit operation for the year in mid-June as the numbers of returning shad dwindled.

"It's a good year," said Richard St. Pierre, Susquehanna River Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It's amazing that we're talking about closing down operations because we only have 50 fish a day. There were years where those were the big days, and we would go on even with five fish a day." ...

Experiment with Japanese oysters ends abruptly

AN experiment testing the ability of non-native Japanese oysters to resist diseases in the Chesapeake Bay was abruptly halted last fall after researchers found some of the bivalves - thought to have been sterilized - were capable of reproducing.

The controversial experiment had been allowed in the York River last June only after scientists offered assurances that the oysters would receive a treatment that would make any chance of natural reproduction almost nonexistent.

Critics feared that if the oysters reproduced, the foreign species could spread throughout the Chesapeake, resulting in unpredictable consequences both for the ecosystem and for the already troubled native oyster. ...

Congress may fund disease-free oyster hatchery

Maryland has moved closer to opening a special hatchery to rear oyster larvae free of disease - a key component of a statewide oyster restoration strategy approved last fall.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-Md.), recently succeeded in having an appropriations subcommittee allot $500,000 for the project.

"Our watermen are losing jobs, our state is losing a historic industry, our people are losing a delicacy, and the Chesapeake Bay is suffering as a decline in the oyster population affects the water quality of the Bay," Hoyer said. "In speaking with the s ubcommittee members, I indicated the urgency in beginning to turn around this decline and through this appropriation, we will begin that process." ...

Gigas experiment bolsters hopes for disease - resistant oyster

Experiments with the Japanese oyster in the York River last year raised serious questions about the commercial value of that species in the Bay, but it bolstered hopes that a disease-resistant strain of oyster may be developed for the Chesapeake.

The test oysters grew slowly during the experiment and were heavily infested by worms native to the Bay, the researchers found, but the oysters proved to be resistant to the diseases that have devastated the native population, sending harvests to histori clows. ...

1993 freshet failed to budge sediment behind Conowingo Dam

The large 1993 freshet that sent the largest amount of fresh water down the Susquehanna since Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 failed to "scour" the huge amount of sediments behind the Conowingo Dam.

In fact, figures from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission indicate that - despite the large flows - slightly more material was accumulated in the reservoir behind the dam than was washed out during 1993.

"All the material that was there is still there, and probably a little bit more," said Lloyd Reed, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. ...

Policy seeks to control new species entering the Bay

A new policy adopted by the Bay Program may help resolve the sometimes sharp differences between jurisdictions over the use and introduction of non-native species in the watershed.

States have the authority to decide what species they will allow to be used within their waterways, but because rivers - and the Bay - cross boundaries, the decision of one jurisdiction can affect another.

The new "Chesapeake Bay Policy for the Introduction of Non-Indigenous Species" is aimed at making sure all the issues related to a species introduction are thoroughly reviewed before a final decision about the introduction of an "exotic" species is made. ...

Clinton gives landscape directive to federal agencies

BayScapes-type principles are about to become the law of the landscape for federal facilities and for federally funded projects.

An executive order issued by President Bill Clinton in April outlines "environmentally and economically beneficial" practices that will help conserve water, prevent pollution, and minimize adverse impacts when landscaping activities take place.

"These landscaping practices should benefit the environment, as well as generate long-term cost savings for the federal government," the executive order said. "For example, the use of native plants not only protects our natural heritage and provides wild life habitat, but also can reduce fertilizer, pesticide, and irrigation demands and their associated costs because native plants are suited to the local environment and climate." ...

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

Features

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Tour dem Parks, hon.

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