Bay Journal

October 2008 - Volume 18 - Number 7

Fuel For Thought

If the Bay region can take the lead in developing the "next generation" of biofuels, it may be able to help farmers, forest owners, rural economies and the Chesapeake, all at the same time, according to a new report.

The report envisions a future in which farmers will grow towering stands of biomass-producing plants or fast-growing trees and sell those products to refineries that produce biofuel which will, in turn, help wean the nation from imported oil.

Meanwhile, the extensive root systems of certain biomass plants will absorb nutrients and stabilize sediment that would otherwise reach streams, and ultimately, the Bay. ...

Spike in row crop production increases nutrient, sediment loads to Bay

Boosted by increasing commodity prices, farmers in the Bay watershed have begun planting more land in row crops, reversing a long-running decline in cropland acreage.

The change is a boon to farmers, who have sharply increased planting corn, wheat and soybeans as prices for each set records this year.

But the change also carries a price for the Chesapeake-and Bay cleanup efforts. The transition of hay, pasture or idle land to corn and soybean production can dramatically increase the amount of nutrients and sediment washing into local streams. ...

CBF releases clean water agenda for next U.S. president

Urging the next president to make the Chesapeake a higher priority, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in September released what it characterized as a "clean water agenda" highlighting actions the next administration could take to help the Bay.

Whether it is Barak Obama or John McCain, the organization hopes the next president uses the 16-point plan to accelerate actions that would help clean up the Bay, improve environmental education and have federal agencies play a bigger role in Chesapeake issues. ...

Montgomery County, MD, raises the bar for limiting pollution discharges

Environmental groups are hailing a new stormwater permit for Maryland's Montgomery County, which calls for measurable limits on pollution discharges, new efforts to prevent trash from washing into streams, and efforts to reduce impacts from both new, and previously developed, areas.

The issuance of the draft permit in September culminated three years of debate between the Maryland Department of the Environment and a coalition of 22 local and regional conservation groups that sought more stringent measures that would make the permit a model for others to follow. ...

Dunn receives Environmental Leadership Award for work with PA rivers

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has announced that this year's winner of its Environmental Leadership Award is Cindy Adams Dunn of Pennsylvania. The award is given each year in honor of Fran Flanigan, former executive director of the Alliance.

Recipients of the Environmental Leadership Award are chosen for their dedication to the cause of restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. Past recipients have included both volunteers and public servants, some who have focused on particular issues and areas, and others whose service has been broad and watershedwide. ...

Blue crab fishery in Bay to get federal economic aid

The federal government in September declared that soft shell and peeler blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are "a commercial fishing failure," a determination that may make watermen and their communities eligible for economic assistance.

In making its determination, the U.S. Commerce Department said the harvest value of Maryland and Virginia soft shell and peeler crabs-both of which are sold as soft shell crabs-has declined 41 percent since the late 1990s.

"Watermen and their families in Maryland and Virginia who harvest blue crabs are being hit hard by this significant decline," Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said. "This determination recognizes the importance of the blue crab harvest to the Chesapeake Bay community and the impact this decline is having on the regional economy." ...

Scientists keep plugging away to keep seagrass cropping up in Bay, rivers

Standing in waist-deep, murky water, Laura Murray raked the bottom of the creek, hoping to reap the reward of several years of work.

At last she found part of what she was looking for, some sprigs of sago pondweed. But there was no trace whatsoever of the redhead grass that she and colleagues from the Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Laboratory had planted in Irish Creek.

"Before we planted," Murray noted, "there weren't either of the species in that bed." ...

Proof or Consequences: Latest cleanup plans must meet goals

Faced with drafting their third major Bay cleanup plan in 21 years, regional leaders face an issue they've not had to confront in the past: convincing the public they mean it this time.

The 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement committed to achieving nutrient reductions that would clean the Bay by 2000. In the Chesapeake 2000 agreement, a new set of leaders promised to clean the Bay by 2010-a deadline they now admit will be missed.

At the current rate, cleanup goals won't be achieved across the entire Bay for another 30 years. And those estimates don't account for population growth and land development in the watershed. ...

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