Bay Journal

March 2006 - Volume 16 - Number 1

When abnormal becomes the norm, Bay cleanup becomes more complex

For nearly two decades, the Bay has been whipsawed by weather extremes. It has bounced from some of the wettest years on record to some of the driest—sometimes with dire consequences for the cleanup effort.

Freshwater flows into the Bay during wet years tend to carry huge amounts of nutrients and sediment, fouling Chesapeake water quality. Dry years tend to have better water quality, but have consequences of their own, such as increased salinity levels, which allow for the spread of oyster diseases and can kill freshwater grasses. ...

Related News:

Climate’s effect on cleanup is not to be taken with a grain of salt

Administration, Congress fail to make the grade on ocean policy

The administration and Congress have earned failing grades for their efforts to address ocean management issues according to members of two separate panels—one of which was appointed by the president—that warned that the nation’s ocean and coastal waters were in serious trouble.

Despite their recommendations, members of the two study commissions say that little has been done to streamline the government’s oversight of oceans and coastal areas—now overseen by myriad agencies—or to step up research or provide international ocean leadership. ...

Draft report adds 145 tainted waterways to Maryland list

One hundred and forty-five polluted Maryland waterways would be added to a state list under a draft report the Department of the Environment is circulating for public review.

The proposed additions to the biennial Impaired Surface Waters list include 11 public beaches and 13 crabbing or fishing spots.

The additions would bring the number of Maryland waters listed as impaired to 733, up from 659 in 2004. The department is taking public comments through March 8 on the 96-page document, which is available at www.mde.state.md.us. ...

Evangelicals launch campaign to fight global warming

A group of 86 evangelical Christians began a campaign in February that links their faith with an attempt to fight global warming.

The leaders, who face opposition from some conservative evangelicals, want the U.S. government to pass legislation requiring the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The group said Christians, and the U.S. government, have a responsibility to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere like a greenhouse. Many scientists believe these gases have intensified recent hurricanes, heat waves, disease outbreaks and droughts. ...

Bush budget cuts funding for cleanup efforts, oyster research

The Bush administration in February proposed a budget that would slash numerous Chesapeake-related initiatives below funding levels approved by Congress for the current year.

Programs that help to fund wastewater treatment plant upgrades and oyster restoration would be among the hardest hit by the proposed cuts. And some popular initiatives, such as the Small Watershed Grants Program and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network would have their funding eliminated under the spending plan.

“This budget would provide less money for the Bay’s most important programs,” said Ann Jennings, Virginia executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “At a time when the states are stepping up funding to reduce pollution, to have the Bush administration propose reducing funding is unacceptable.” ...

Demand for organic food growing faster than domestic supply

Got Organic Milk? That’s the question more and more consumers are asking in supermarkets across the nation.

Sales of organic food have grown dramatically over the last decade—soaring from $3 billion in 1997 to more than $10 billion in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sales of organic food have grown by 20 percent annually, and experts predict that the industry’s share of the U.S. food market is expected to grow from about 2 percent to roughly 3.5 percent by the end of the decade. ...

Pennsylvania stream project a showing signs of success

The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers recently completed a three-year project to coordinate the placement of signs at 4,088 stream crossings throughout the state.

“We believe the signs are a simple and effective way of raising awareness of water resources, and awareness is the first step in stewardship,” said Kathleen McGinty, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which funded the project.

Judy Jordan, POWR’s executive director, said that highway safety and the sheer number of different authorities that must participate in a project of such magnitude presented special challenges. The organization worked closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and county conservation districts, who in turn coordinated with 450 municipalities to complete the installations. ...

17 local governments honored for measures beneficial to Bay

Federal and state Bay restoration leaders recently recognized 17 local governments for their dedication to protecting and restoring local waters and the Chesapeake.

Municipalities selected for integrating Bay-friendly measures into their management include:

  • Gold Partners: Plymouth Township, PA; College Township, PA; Lancaster, PA; South Middleton Township, PA; Montgomery County, MD; Rockville, MD; Carroll County, MD; Greenbelt, MD; Aberdeen, MD; Prince George’s County, MD; Alexandria, VA; Falls Church, VA; Clarke County, VA; Arlington County, VA.
  • Silver Partners: Chester County, PA; Borough of Lewisburg, PA; Hampstead, MD.

“Local governments play a critical role in our ongoing work to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant Jr. “Their efforts serve as a model for how partnerships among local, state and federal governments are working together to meet the tough pollution prevention goals needed to help improve our local waters.” ...

Treaty takes aim at trash-free Potomac River

The litter appears as the last house slips away around a curve in the rearview mirror. Beer bottles, water bottles, soda cans and fast-food waste dot the wooded bank of burbling Ballenger Creek for nearly half a mile, tossed by travelers on Elmer Derr Road just south of Frederick, MD. A hard rain would wash much of it into the creek, which flows into the Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac.

Last year, volunteers removed nearly 218 tons of trash from the Potomac River watershed in a single day. Now the group that sponsors the annual cleanup has a new objective: a trash-free Potomac by 2013. ...

Watershed groups in rural Pennsylvania have gone mainstream

Local watershed organizations are influencing community dynamics—and the nature of environmental stewardship—in rural Pennsylvania, according to a research team at Pennsylvania State University.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania commissioned the study of rural watershed organizations, which drew on 27 in-depth interviews and questionnaires completed by 172 watershed organizations across the state.

“We got into this because we realized that community watershed organizations were really proliferating across the state.” said faculty member and researcher Frank Higdon. “There are literally hundreds of them, and we didn’t know that much about them.” ...

Bay Commission’s united front has led Chesapeake cleanup effort

It was 1980, many years since the infamous oyster wars, but even so, the new bi-state partnership between Virginia and Maryland got off to an inauspicious start. Representatives from both states—almost all unfamiliar with each other—were gathered at the first meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Commission when one man staggered in drunk, put his head down on the meeting table and began to snore. The Virginians fumed, and so did the Marylanders.

Tensions had always been high. Lord Baltimore had barely started his colony when the two neighbors nearly came to blows after a Virginia trader, ignoring Maryland sovereignty, set up a trading post on Kent Island. The states had also argued, sometimes fought, over fishing rights and control of the Potomac River. ...

Cause of cancerous tumors on South River catfish a mystery

When survey crews tossed their nets into Maryland’s South River looking for fish last year, what they pulled up was a bit of an ecological mystery.

The crew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who were conducting a survey for yellow perch, noticed strange pink bumps on the lips of catfish found on their nets.

Follow-up sampling revealed the river had the highest rate of skin tumors, and the second highest rate of liver tumors, that biologists had seen in any catfish outside the Anacostia River. ...

Climate’s effect on cleanup is not to be taken with a grain of salt

Wide-ranging changes in river flows into the Bay have been the norm not only for the past few years—or even decades—but for centuries.

In the past, such changes as widespread floods seen a century ago, were blamed mostly on the clearing of forests in the 1800s. But recent papers by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and others show that long-term climate patterns had actually changed during that time: the period of 1825 through 1910 had far more rainfall than previous centuries. ...

Ward Oyster Co.

Features

Travel

Ernst Conservation Seeds: Restoring the Native Balance.
A Documentary Inspired by William W. Warner’s 1976 Exploration of Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay.

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