Bay Journal

June 2008 - Volume 18 - Number 4

Farm bill includes huge influx of new conservation funds for Bay watershed

Congress overwhelming passed a new Farm Bill that would direct $188 million in new conservation funding to support Bay watershed restoration over the next five years-the largest single infusion of federal support in Chesapeake cleanup history.

In addition, spending increases for an array of national farm conservation programs will mean tens of millions of additional dollars for Bay state farmers looking for help with activities that may range from building manure storage facilities to wetland restoration. ...

TMDLs are coming, like it or not

It started this spring with Delaware and the District of Columbia. Mary-land will follow suit in June, and Virginia this summer.

 

Each, in turn, is fulfilling its biennial obligation of reporting "dirty waters" to the EPA -those that fall short of Clean Water Act goals of being fully "fishable and swimmable" because of pollution.

 

From a watershed perspective, the reports of those four jurisdictions are especially important. Besides listing hundreds of miles of impaired rivers and other waterways, they will show that virtually all of the Chesapeake and its tidal tributaries fail to meet water quality standards. ...

 

William Warner, author of ‘Beautiful Swimmers,’ dead at 88

By late 1976, I'd worked half a dozen years on Chesapeake Bay as a biologist, shuttling between my lab bench and small boats out on the mainstem or the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers. I'd gotten to know some local watermen and thought I had a good enough sense of the Bay to be a steward and spokesman for her future.

Then a colleague at the little field station where I worked told me I had to read this new book on Chesapeake Bay called "Beautiful Swimmers," a translation of the blue crab's taxonomic name, Callinectes sapidus. I soon discovered why the author, William Warner, won the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction. ...

Congress to support B-WET program in additional regions

At a time when budgets everywhere are under threat, an environmental education program that debuted in the Chesapeake Bay area has won additional support from Congress to open in three new regions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a $5.5 million increase for its Bay Watershed and Education Training program in 2008, for a total budget of nearly $9.7 million dollars.

The increase will allow B-WET to expand into New England, the Pacific North West and Gulf of Mexico, and continue operating in California, Hawaii and the Chesapeake Bay. B-WET funding for the Chesapeake Bay remained stable at $3.5 million. ...

Activists announce plan to clean up Elizabeth River by 2020

Environmentalists have announced an ambitious plan to make one of the Bay's most badly polluted tributaries safe for swimming, fishing and shellfishing by 2020.

The Elizabeth River has been closed to oyster and clam harvests since the 1920s, and most of the urban river is considered unsafe for fishing and swimming. It is considered by the Bay Program to be one of the watershed's three "regions of concern" because of chemical contaminants. But scientists and officials say conditions are improving-largely because of upgraded sewage plants-and should continue to get better. ...

Land deal will allow wild stretch of Susquehanna to stay that way

Amazingly, the stretch of the Susquehanna River from Holtwood Dam to the Conowingo Dam looks nearly as wild as it did when Native Americans paddled these waters in hollowed-out wooden canoes. Half a dozen bald eagles soar and fish its waters. It is undeveloped, with very little wastewater discharge.

Upstream and downstream, it is a different story, but this 21.5-mile section of the mainstem of the Susquehanna River is exquisite.

Historical and recreational components sites highlight this stretch. Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve, Otter Creek, Lock 12 Historic Area, two campgrounds, two boat launches and multiple picnic areas have been used by the public for decades. Yet few realize that these valuable lands are not permanently protected. ...

Effort close to exterminating nutria on Delmarva Peninsula

Just six years ago, the nutria were so thick in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge that when hunters rode down the tidal guts of the preserve, the rodents were "jumping off the edge like frogs into a ditch, one after another," said Steve Kendrot, the federal wildlife scientist in charge of wiping the invasive species out of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Now, only a few stragglers remain in Blackwater's 27,000 acres after a relentless hunt that killed almost 12,000 of the orange-toothed herbivores. ...

MD anglers asked to be on lookout for latest invasive algae

As if the Bay watershed didn't have enough algae.

Maryland recently became the latest state to discover a new, invasive algal species that scientists fear will threaten trout streams and other high-quality waterways throughout the region.

The nonnative species, Didymosphenia geminata-commonly called Didymo-was found by anglers on the Gunpowder Falls in Baltimore County this spring. Follow-up surveys by biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found numerous patches of the stringy, brown algae covering rocks and stream bottom between Prettyboy Reservoir and Loch Raven Reservoir. ...

Governors seek disaster designation for Chesapeake crabbers

The governors of Maryland and Virginia announced in May that they are seeking federal disaster assistance for watermen who are expected to suffer financially because of limits on blue crab harvests in the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine have sent letters to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez seeking the Fishery Resource Disaster designation. This designation would allow Congress to appropriate economic assistance for hard-hit watermen.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, said $15 million is being sought to put watermen to work on projects to restore the Bay. She said the idea is to spread the money out over a three-year period to help keep watermen working on habitat restoration and conservation. ...

No Child Left Inside wants appreciation for outdoors to be second nature

Unplugged, unstructured time in nature is hard to come by these days-especially for U.S. children with packed schedules and a knack for media multi-tasking.

Nature has also lost status in the academic world. Even teachers who value environmental education lack resources to explore topics that aren't directly measured on yearly standardized achievement tests.

On Earth Day, members of Congress took to the great outdoors at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to hear testimony about the need to reverse this trend by passing the proposed "No Child Left Inside Act." ...

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