The Chesapeake Bay may be called a priceless resource, but cleaning it up has a definite price tag: $8.5 billion.
That estimate, from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is the cost to meet the major goals of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement for land preservation, cleaning up the Bay’s water and restoring wetlands and oysters.
The group plans to launch a campaign to generate support for a massive, 10-year program to dramatically increase Bay funding. Unless the region makes the commitment, the group warns, the Bay Program will fall short of its goal to clean up the Bay by 2010. ...
For Bernie Fowler, it started with the loss of grass beds and the long decline of the Patuxent River, where he grew up.
Frustrated that no one was doing much about the problem, he put up $157 of his own money in 1970, ran for county commissioner, and won, launching a political career that ultimately led to the state Senate.
“When you live on a river like that, it becomes a part of you,” Fowler explained.
For Tayloe Murphy, it began with worries about the Potomac River, near where his family had lived for generations, and the birth of his daughter. ...
The National Park Service, in March, added 19 sites to the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, which now includes more than 60 members. The network strives to create a broader commitment to Bay restoration and conservation efforts by highlighting various aspects of the Chesapeake’s natural, cultural and historical heritage. The new sites are:
- Reedville Fisherman’s Museum preserves the heritage of watermen and highlights the menhaden fishery which made Reedville a major commercial port.
- From the Watermen’s Museum, working watermen can still be seen on the York River. Their story is told through tools, boat models and historic photos.
- At Jamestown Island, see a re-creation of a Powhatan Indian village and the first permanent English colony in America. Climb aboard re-creations of the ships that brought the colonists here and tour the museum to learn more about their life in the early 1600s.
- The York River Water Trail covers the York, Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers. The marsh and woodland along these rivers are home to a variety of wildlife. Two Native American tribes maintain reservations here.
- The Norfolk Waterway Trail System will develop access to 38 miles of rivers and creeks along Norfolk’s natural and manmade waterfront.
- At the Yorktown Visitor Center & Battlefield, visitors can explore the scene of the 1781 Siege of Yorktown, where warships fought after the French Navy blockaded the mouth of the Bay to isolate British troops in this final battle of the American Revolutionary War.
- Walk the Town of Cape Charles Historic District to see dozens of restored late-Victorian and turn-of-the-century homes, or enjoy its beautiful Chesapeake beach and year-round art and music events.
- The Pamunkey Indian Reservation, in King William County, operates a fish hatchery which sustains the annual run of shad on the Pamunkey River. A museum highlights the Tribe’s culture over the past 12,000 years.
- Gloucester Point Park, on the York River, offers a sandy beach, free public fishing pier and two boat ramps. A full-service visitor center is open seasonally.
In Maryland ...
“Are we there yet?” This year’s edition of Maryland’s popular Bay Game will help to answer that question both in terms of one’s destination and Bay recovery efforts.
The Maryland Bay Game, which is distributed free upon request at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2001, is designed to be played from the back seat of a car while riding to Maryland’s beaches along MD Routes 50 and 404 on the Eastern Shore.
Designed for ages 3 and up, the Bay Game increases players’ awareness of how things around them relate to the Chesapeake Bay while giving them something fun to do on the long car ride. ...
The Chesapeake Bay Program will soon be seeking innovative, cost-effective proposals for projects that will help it meet specific objectives of its Chesapeake 2000 Agreement.
This is the first “request for proposals” by the Bay Program’s Budget Steering Committee since the new Bay agreement was signed last year.
In an effort to move toward fulfilling those objectives, various Bay Program subcommittees are developing three-year strategies for implementing commitments. Each strategy identifies a number of specific outcomes they would like to fund. ...
From Hampshire County in West Virginia to St. Mary’s County in Maryland, more than 4,000 volunteers turned out along the Potomac and its tributaries to clean nearly 70 tons of trash from the river April 7.
During the 13th annual event, volunteers recovered a 1955 Chevrolet, 2,000 balls, 709 tires, two wringing washing machines — and several kitchen sinks.
Other miscellaneous items that turned up included: a box of new yo-yos, a working cell phone, two $20 bills, a treadmill , five traffic signs, lots of cups from 7-11 and Starbucks, 21 shopping carts, a paddle boat, two coconuts, five full bottles of soda, a wedding picture, a bread rack, doll arms, two water skis, a hairpiece, six grills, half of a life-size plastic goose and a cannon ball that was donated to the Reston Historical Society. ...
While overall federal spending would increase by 4 percent next year, the Bush administration’s first budget would cut environmental agencies, including the Bay Program, in 2002.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 would cut federal spending for environmental and natural resources programs by $2.3 billion — to $32.3 billion. That’s a 7.2 percent reduction from this year. When adjusted for inflation, the “real dollar” reduction is 11 percent.
“We’re sort of treating it as an anti-environmental administration,” said Charlie Stek, an aide to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-MD. ...
District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams called on Congress to invest millions of dollars to upgrade the city’s 130-year-old sewer system as part of an overall cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.
“The combined sewer system discharges over 2.5 billion gallon of untreated wastewater and precipitation into Rock Creek and the Anacostia and Potomac rivers,” said Williams, who also chairs the Chesapeake Executive Council, which sets policy for the Bay cleanup effort.
The problem of combined sewer overflows stems from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority system originally constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1870. ...
Bald eagle populations have reached a 23-year high in the Bay watershed — and for the first time since the 1940s, an active nest with a fledgling has been recorded in the District of Columbia — according to data released in March by the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Results from the annual Baywide bald eagle population count show 533 active nests with 813 fledgling eaglets, nearly a 10 percent increase from last year’s 486 nests and 706 young eagles.
Most of the increases have occurred in the Maryland and Virginia portions of the watershed. Lower numbers in Pennsylvania are attributed to the absence of open Bay waters. ...
Virginia officials are about to find out if oysters are resilient enough to grow on old toilets.
First, they are gathering as many junked porcelain toilets, bathtubs and sinks as possible.
Then, they will smash them to bits, scatter the pieces on the bottom of the Back River in Hampton and plant baby oysters on top.
There, in salty waters right at the edge of a runway at Langley Air Force Base, the babies will attach themselves and multiply, officials hope.
It would be the state’s newest — and certainly most unusual — artificial oyster reef in the lower Chesapeake Bay. ...
The 2001 Maryland and Virginia General Assemblies took a number of actions affecting the Bay, including actions to strengthen blue crab regulations. Meanwhile, Maryland agreed to end the open-water disposal of dredged materials and Virginia took additional action to protect submerged aquatic vegetation.
Here is a a summary of Chesapeake-related actions, adapted from a report from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a bipartisan panel that represents the legislatures of both states. Pennsylvania action is not included as its General Assembly meets all year, and has not yet taken any final actions. For a copy of the full report, contact the Commission at 410-263-3420, or visit its web site, www.chesbay.state.va.us ...
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will be “Celebrating the Return of the Shad” at its 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18 at the Safe Harbor Water Power Corp. in Conestoga, PA.
All Alliance members are invited to attend the meeting, where they will elect the board of directors for the coming year.
It is also a great opportunity to meet other members, converse with board members and staff, and learn about new programs being planned by the Alliance. ...
The first ever Patuxent Sojourn will take place June 3–10 beginning with a kickoff in Queen Anne, MD and ending 42 miles later at the annual Bernie Fowler Wade-in at Broomes Island, MD.
The weeklong paddle, organized by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, features educational programming, riverside camping, restoration projects, festive meals and meetings with elected officials.
Highlights of the trip will include “Bluegrass and Bay Grass” at Selby’s Landing, MD on the evening of June 4; a bay grass restoration project at Jug Bay on June 5; and an oyster bed restoration project in Benedict, MD on June 9. ...
The state of Connecticut recently dropped a portion of a lawsuit that environmentalists said weakened fishery management along the coast and threatened many species important to the Chesapeake Bay.
The state in March amended a suit challenging federal authority to regulate summer flounder by removing a portion that sought to have the 1993 Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act declared unconstitutional.
That law gave the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission, which represents all East Coast states and the federal government, authority to set mandatory catch limits on near shore fish that migrate across state lines, including many Bay species such as striped bass and shad. ...
After protests from environmental groups, Maryland has withdrawn plans to issue a permit that would have allowed increased nutrient discharges from a wastewater treatment plant expanding in the Patuxent watershed.
Last fall, the Maryland Department of the Environment proposed a draft permit for the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant that eventually could have allowed nitrogen discharges to grow by 175,000 pounds a year, and phosphorus releases by 25,000 pounds.
Now, the MDE is planning to write a new permit, which will allow the Howard County plant to expand. But in doing so, it will have to keep nutrient discharges at 2000 levels. ...
Someday, not too far in the future, local areas throughout the Bay watershed may be assigned “budgets” for nitrogen and phosphorus.
Every time a wastewater treatment plant is expanded, a new housing development is approved or an animal feedlot is established, their nutrient increases would have to be offset so that the overall budget stays in balance.
Those offsets could be achieved by such means as improving stormwater management at an older development, using new technologies to better treat wastewater plant effluent or employing new runoff control techniques on farm fields. ...
A few months after starting his new job at the Bay Program, Bill Matuszeski believed that oysters were poorly managed in the Chesapeake, and decided to let people know what he thought.
He wrote that there were three reasons to manage the Bay’s oysters: to provide a commercial harvest; to protect a highly valued traditional way of life in the Bay; and to restore the oyster’s role in the Bay’s ecology.
“Yet,” he concluded, “for a variety of reasons, current management regimes focus almost exclusively on the first reason, barely admit to the second and essentially ignore the third.” ...