Bay Journal

September 2000 - Volume 10 - Number 6

Shad to get free run of Susquehanna

When Jack Morningstar was a child, his grandmother used to tell him stories about how, in the late 1800s, she would catch shad in the canals that lined the Susquehanna River.

Sometimes, her family — which often didn’t have much money — would eat the fish for three meals in a single day.

But Morningstar never caught a shad; they were gone by the time he was born. Although he grew up along the river, and taught his children and grandchildren how to canoe and fish in its waters, shad was always a thing of the past. ...

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Shad stocking efforts in Bay tributaries starting to show results

Alewife, herring could come streaming back with passages

Shad stocking efforts in Bay tributaries starting to show results

The campaign to restore depleted shad stocks hit a new milestone this year as a record 36 million young fish were stocked in Bay tributaries.

There was also fresh evidence that stock rebuilding efforts were paying off: Strong spawning runs were reported throughout the watershed.

And the shad restoration program truly became Baywide as the state of Delaware joined Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Native Americans, nonprofit groups, local governments and others in the effort. ...

Migratory Canada geese population rebounding

Canada geese, often the waterfowl most closely identified with the Chesapeake Bay, continue to wing their their way toward a population rebound, according to the annual breeding ground survey.

The aerial survey of nesting grounds in northern Canada counted 93,000 pairs of Atlantic population geese this spring, an increase from the 77,000 counted last year.

“It’s real obvious now that there are more geese when we fly up there,” said Bill Harvey, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources game program population specialist, who participates in the annual survey. “And the Inuits are saying the same thing — that they are seeing a lot more geese.” ...

Glendening unveils $12 million plan to restore streams

In an effort to make sure the Bay cleanup starts at the local level, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening joined leaders of 23 jurisdictions in signing a Local Government Partnership Agreement aimed at protecting water quality before it reaches the Chesapeake.

To help spur local efforts, the governor also announced a two-year, $12 million initiative to restore degraded streams and improve water quality.

The July 6 signing came only a week after the signing of a new Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. That agreement, signed by Glendening and the governors of Pennsylvania and Virginia, the EPA administrator, District of Columbia mayor and Chesapeake Bay Commission chairman, relies heavily on local governments to meet its goals of cleaning the Bay and its tributaries and managing growth. ...

Workshops to discuss ‘pollution trading credits’ for Bay

Trading pollution “credits” has proved to be a successful way to cost effectively reduce pollution in various places around the country, and interest is growing in the Bay region for establishing a trading program as part of nutrient control efforts.

The idea is that by establishing a “market” that allows trading credits, people or facilities who achieve more nutrient reductions than they would normally be asked to do could take the extra reductions and sell them as credits to others. ...

ASMFC set to close VA horseshoe crab catch

The U.S. Department of Commerce has told Virginia it must slash its catch of horseshoe crabs or face a statewide moratorium on the catch of the ancient sea creature.

The closure will go into effect in mid-September unless the state agrees to comply with quotas set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission earlier this year.

It would be the first time that a moratorium was ordered under a 1993 law that gives the Secretary of Commerce the power to close fisheries in states that fail to enforce limits set by the ASMFC, a panel representing all East Coast states that manages migratory species. ...

Senate bill would significantly increase funds for Gateways program

The Senate has approved $2.75 billion to boost the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Program next year — more than twice what President Clinton had requested and more than four times what was available to launch the program this year.

The money was included for the National Park Service as part of the Department of the Interior Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2001, which begins Oct. 1.

The House version of the Interior bill does not include any money for Gateways. Differences between the two versions must be worked out in a conference committee before the final measure can be submitted to the president. A Senate aide working with the legislation expressed confidence, though, that the final measure would likely reflect figures included in the Senate bill. ...

Bay Program, estuarine habitat bills in limbo

With this session of Congress entering its final days before members call it quits until the election, the fate of two bills important to the Chesapeake remains uncertain.

Both the House and Senate have approved bills reauthorizing the Bay Program and establishing a new program aimed at restoring 1 million acres of estuarine habitat nationwide.

But so far, the two chambers have not resolved the minor differences between the House and Senate versions of each bill, which would clear the way for final approval. ...

Panel backs CARA

After winning support from a key Senate committee, legislation that would give millions of dollars a year to each of the Bay states for land acquisition, habitat improvement and other conservation programs is only one step away from approval.

The question is whether enough time remains for the full Senate to vote on the measure, which won approval in the House by a 315-102 vote in May.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on July 25 added its support to the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) on a 13-7 vote, with four Republicans joining all nine committee Democrats. ...

New regulations proposed to halt Tulloch ditching

After two years of wetland losses totaling 20,000 acres nationwide, the Clinton administration has proposed new regulations it says will close a loophole created by a 1998 court decision.

The regulations seek to control so-called “Tulloch ditching” in which developers are exempted from regulation if they use certain techniques to ditch and drain wetlands.

The court ruling led to more than 2,000 acres of wetland draining in Virginia over the past two years before the state’s General Assembly this year passed a law creating a regulatory program to protect wetlands. Although the full program does not take effect for more than a year, the prohibition on Tulloch ditching went into effect this summer. ...

Virginia, Maryland act to regulate SAV restoration projects

Maryland and Virginia officials, alarmed about impacts on grass beds, have both moved in the past two years to regulate fishing and other activities that harm the Bay’s “underwater meadows.”

Now, they are acting to regulate Bay grass restoration activities as well.

The reason: Officials are worried that — if not done right — the increasing number of grass restoration efforts throughout the Bay may do as much harm as good.

“We want to make sure that we know what is going on out there,” said Jay Woodward, an environmental engineer with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. ...

Scientists figuring out how to measure Bay Program oyster goal

The Bay Program’s first goal in its new Chesapeake 2000 Agreement calls for achieving a tenfold increase in the number of oysters by 2010.

Now, they have to figure out how to count them.

“We don’t know how many oysters are in the Bay, except that there are billions,” said Steve Jordan, director of the state-federal Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Maryland.

Although disease, overfishing and poor water quality have taken a toll on the Bay’s oysters, large numbers remain — but they are widely scattered, making it hard to come up with any reliable Baywide estimate. ...

CBF rearing oysters to stock reefs for Bay restoration effort

In a small creek off the York River, the largest oyster aquaculture project in the Bay is under way. But unlike other commercial-scale oyster-rearing projects, its oysters are destined for the Chesapeake — not the dinner table.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which proposed the tenfold oyster increase goal included in the Bay Program’s Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, is planning to rear 1 million disease-tolerant oysters annually to stock restored oyster reefs.

Frankly, I think this is the best chance we have of restoring Virginia’s oyster population,” said Tommy Leggett, a waterman and a former member of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, who is overseeing the project. “I think we stand to see some phenomenal increases.” ...

Navy ship joins effort to clean up Anacostia

The U.S. Navy sent a ship on a mission in the Anacostia River in July. Its two-week job: Gather information about the chemical contamination in the river.

Its assignment to the river coincided with the release of a 200-page report that provided the most detailed look so far at the dozens of chemical contaminants found in the Anacostia and its sediments.

The report was released by the Anacostia Watershed Toxics Alliance, a public-private partnership formed last year by state and federal agencies and some businesses to work on cleaning up the Anacostia River. ...

‘Riverkeeper’ pledges to protect the Anacostia

From the open deck of his boat to the insides of a courtroom, a new “riverkeeper” is aiming to help restore one of the Bay watershed’s most degraded rivers.

The new Anacostia Riverkeeper will be a full-time advocate for the river, aggressively seeking to reign in pollution while simultaneously working to engage the public by promoting cleanups and educational events.

“When we get people realizing this is the District’s river, and get them on the river and involved in its restoration, that will go a long ways toward its recovery,” said Damon Whitehead, who was named the Anacostia Riverkeeper. “The quality of life in our communities is measured by how well we take care of our natural resources.” ...

Scientists support EPA for stricter mercury guidelines

The National Academy of Sciences endorsed a controversial mercury exposure guideline established by the EPA, a decision that is likely to clear the way for the agency later this year to curb mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The utility industry has opposed such regulations. Congress two years ago blocked the EPA from imposing new restrictions on mercury emissions until the NAS reviewed the agency’s new exposure guidelines.

The EPA’s new exposure standard was controversial because it is more strict than that of two other federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ...

TMDLs & The Chesapeake Bay

Total Maximum Daily Load is a “pollution budget” for a waterway, much like the Bay Program’s tributary strategies, which set specific limits on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Chesapeake from different rivers.

In fact, EPA Administrator Carol Browner made that comparison when unveiling the new TMDL rules. “Addressing problems locally, on a watershed-by-watershed, river-by-river, bay-by-bay basis, is a proven, common-sense method for cost-effectively addressing our nation’s remaining water quality problems,” she said. ...

EPA issues rules to ‘finish the job’ of cleaning U.S. waters

The EPA has adopted controversial new rules that will require states to complete — and implement — cleanup plans for thousands of polluted rivers, lakes and streams across the nation.

To comply with the rules, states would have to crack down on hard-to-control runoff from agricultural and urban lands, which are the main cause of pollution in most waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA Administrator Carol Browner called it “the single most important action in a generation for cleaning up America’s polluted rivers, lakes and shorelines.” ...

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TMDLs & The Chesapeake Bay

Alewife, herring could come streaming back with passages

Shad may be the star when officials talk about restoring migratory fish to the Bay’s tributaries. But the real beneficiaries could someday be smaller fish that few people are familiar with: alewife and blueback herring. Almost indistinguishable from one another, they are collectively referred to as river herring.

Like shad, they spend most of their lives swimming along the coast, but return to their natal rivers and streams to spawn.

Unlike shad, which stay mainly in larger rivers, the river herring will move into smaller headwater streams and ponds to spawn. ...

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