Bay Journal

Opinion

The case for a Maryland fracking ban

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Next week, on Feb. 28, the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Maryland Senate will take up legislation dealing with shale gas drilling (fracking). For public safety, economic and environmental reasons, we believe the technology should not be allowed in Maryland.

Nearly three out of four senators have indicated a willingness to extend the current fracking moratorium, set to expire in October. This suggests they recognize that gas drilling will not be the economic bonanza that supporters have claimed since 2011, when the mountains above Marcellus Shale deposits in Western Maryland were first targeted.

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Immerse yourself in Dumbarton Oaks Park

The Japanese have a practice translated in English as “forest bathing,” in which people immerse themselves in a forest as a preventative health measure.

Studies have shown tremendous benefits of this practice, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and improved sleep, which in turn promote better focus, a boosted immune system and higher energy levels.

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Three examples show how ripples can become waves to save the Bay

The saying goes: “It takes a village.” To fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, governments, businesses and citizens all must do their part. Every day, I meet people working to reduce pollution and restore local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake. What I have learned is that Bay’s village is huge. Few get the credit they deserve. As we enter the new year, I would like to share three stories. There are many thousands more.

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Growing partnerships with farmers key to restoring Octoraro watershed

The Chesapeake region is fortunate to have a variety of organizations that are interested in creating innovative partnerships to address local needs for clean water.

In 2016, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay was awarded two grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce nitrate pollution in the Octoraro watershed in Lancaster and Chester counties, PA, an important source of drinking water for thousands of customers in Pennsylvania.

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Did acceleration of building ditches dig the grave for Blackwater’s marshes?

“Don’t stand up while we’re moving. If we come to a sudden stop, we could lose you.” Ray Paterra, visitor services manager of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, had just given us lifejackets, earmuffs and a safety briefing for the airboat.

As we took off on the Little Blackwater River and throttled up, Angela Crenshaw, ranger at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, and I sat in the front, feeling the abrupt forward impulse of acceleration. I reached around for a handle on the side of the boat, anchoring myself in the seat with one hand and holding on to my hat with the other.

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Prepare to be ticked off when messing with biodiversity

Protecting the environment is usually easier to the extent we can link it to human health concerns. The tough federal Clean Air Act, for example, has been driving the Chesapeake Bay cleanup by reducing nitrogen pollution from dirty air; but the real impetus for the law is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate that it’s saving more than 160,000 human lives each year.

A far tougher sell has been promoting biodiversity, by maintaining and restoring the full suite of plants and animals and natural habitats that are under assault here and globally.
Growing documentation of wild nature’s “ecosystem services” has helped: from pollution removal by oysters and wetlands, to forests’ capacity to absorb CO2 and mitigate climate change. But none of this has proved to be the big persuader for decision makers.

“But what if the loss of biodiversity made you sick…made you and your family more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases?” asks ecologist Richard Ostfeld in his groundbreaking 2011 book, Lyme Disease—The Ecology of a Complex System.

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To make Chesapeake great again, red & blue must strive for green

All of us awoke on Nov. 9 to some unexpected feelings. Whether you felt joy or fear, the future seemed a bit more uncertain. That uncertainty extends to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed as well.

For nearly 50 years, the environmental community has been involved in a conversation about cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. We have debated about what the problems are, who is responsible, what restoration looks like, how to pay for it, who should pay and what are the best ways to get there.

Progress has been slow; and even though positive signs of progress are evident, much remains to be done amid an uneasy feeling that we do not have forever to get it done. Adding uncertainty to that picture can be discouraging.

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Here’s to a holiday when there are plenty of oysters for plate & reef

As the holiday season approaches and the weather cools, there is heightened interest in oysters for stews, stuffing or shucked on the half shell. I often hear colleagues, friends and family asking, “How are oysters doing in the Chesapeake Bay?” My quick answer is “OK.” The longer reply is that oyster habitat restoration is a work in progress (and we are making progress); oyster aquaculture is continuing to expand (meaning more varieties at your local oyster eatery); and the wild harvest is a mixed bag (with more harvesters competing for a limited resource).

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Bay Program teams using cross-project initiatives to reach goals

Working within a partnership like the Chesapeake Bay Program presents unique obstacles when it comes to achieving restoration goals.

Think of the challenge of finding a compromise between the different personalities in a dating relationship or marriage — only in the Bay Program’s relationship, there are nine partners, six goal implementation teams (GITs), 10 goals and 31 outcomes, all angling to prioritize their own agenda while trying to reach consensus on how to best move the partnership forward.

It may seem overwhelming, but over our 33-year history, the Bay Program has a longstanding tradition of achieving that consensus.

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We must count our numbers as well as actions we’re taking to be sustainable

In a classic case of confusing root causes with symptoms, an environmental report on the United States’ rising contribution to climate change over a recent 15-year period was titled The Carbon Boom.

It should have been titled The Population Boom, as virtually the whole increase measured in carbon dioxide emissions came from more people, not from burning more fossil fuel per capita.
This remains all too typical, approaching every environmental solution in terms of reducing our carbon (or nitrogen or land-use) “footprint,” lowering our per-capita impacts — seldom even discussing the other major part of the solution, the size of the population.

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Opinion: Archives

The case for a Maryland fracking ban

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal, its board or staff.   Next week, on Feb. 28, the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee in...

Immerse yourself in Dumbarton Oaks Park

The Japanese have a practice translated in English as “forest bathing,” in which people immerse themselves in a forest as a preventative health measure. Studies have shown tremendous benefits of this practice, including lower...

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Around the Watershed

Bay Program teams using cross-project initiatives to reach goals

Working within a partnership like the Chesapeake Bay Program presents unique obstacles when it comes to achieving restoration goals. Think of the challenge of finding a compromise between the different personalities in a dating relationship or marriage — only in the Bay...

Crediting agricultural non-cost share practices in the Bay Program’s watershed model

Have you heard the terms “voluntary agricultural practices” or “non-cost-shared practices?” They refer to agricultural conservation practices that are neither paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Farm Bill programs nor state and county agencies...

Bay’s restoration depends on decisions by local governments

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is vast and complex. Covering 64,000 miles, the watershed includes six states and the District of Columbia. As the largest estuary in North America, it has a land-to-water ratio of 14-to-1; five times greater than any other. Its airshed is nine times larger...

Read more Around the Watershed »

Chesapeake Born

Goldsborough skillfully navigated Bay fisheries’ troubled waters

Saving the Bay is obviously about improving water quality, but equally tricky is the business of managing how much seafood we extract from that water. From crabs and other shellfish to finfish, modern technologies enable harvest pressure that could overwhelm the healthiest estuary. So,...

Prepare to be ticked off when messing with biodiversity

Protecting the environment is usually easier to the extent we can link it to human health concerns. The tough federal Clean Air Act, for example, has been driving the Chesapeake Bay cleanup by reducing nitrogen pollution from dirty air; but the real impetus for the law is the U.S....

We must count our numbers as well as actions we’re taking to be sustainable

In a classic case of confusing root causes with symptoms, an environmental report on the United States’ rising contribution to climate change over a recent 15-year period was titled The Carbon Boom. It should have been titled The Population Boom, as virtually the whole increase...

Read more Chesapeake Born »

Conservation Matters

Immerse yourself in Dumbarton Oaks Park

The Japanese have a practice translated in English as “forest bathing,” in which people immerse themselves in a forest as a preventative health measure. Studies have shown tremendous benefits of this practice, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and improved sleep,...

At the ten-year mark, happy birthday to the Bay’s beautiful and profoundly historic national trail

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year, we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of a national park we have right here in our collective backyard: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Winding through much of the Chesapeake region, the...

Savage River fishing trip highlights importance of headwaters

Recently my friend, John Neely, who is also a board member of the Chesapeake Conservancy, took me fly fishing on Savage River. Savage River is a headwater tributary of the Potomac River, on the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Its watershed occupies more than 74,000 acres of...

Read more Conservation Matters »

Forum

The case for a Maryland fracking ban

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal, its board or staff.   Next week, on Feb. 28, the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Maryland Senate will take up legislation...

Three examples show how ripples can become waves to save the Bay

The saying goes: “It takes a village.” To fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, governments, businesses and citizens all must do their part. Every day, I meet people working to reduce pollution and restore local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake. What I have...

Did acceleration of building ditches dig the grave for Blackwater’s marshes?

“Don’t stand up while we’re moving. If we come to a sudden stop, we could lose you.” Ray Paterra, visitor services manager of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, had just given us lifejackets, earmuffs and a safety briefing for the airboat. As we took off on the...

Read more Forum »

Letters to the Editor

Elect to protect Eastern Shore

Thank goodness the election is finally over. I heard the term “election stress disorder” this fall and it immediately resonated with me and many others I know. Part of the stress for me related to the continuous news cycle and overwhelmingly negative tone of the presidential...

Bay needs menhaden more than reduction industry

Much has been written and discussed about menhaden (Brevootia tyrannus), a forage fish for many other fish, birds and mammals. Recently, a bill was introduced into the Virginia Legislature to move the management of these fish from the Virginia Legislature to the Virginia Marine Resources...

Biodiversity needs human diversity among those who protect it

I read with great interest the Bay Journal’s recent article, “The ‘green ceiling’: Environmental organizations lack diversity” (November 2014). As an African American woman fish and wildlife biologist, there were not many faces that looked like mine as I...

Read more Letters to the Editor »

Message from the Alliance

Growing partnerships with farmers key to restoring Octoraro watershed

The Chesapeake region is fortunate to have a variety of organizations that are interested in creating innovative partnerships to address local needs for clean water. In 2016, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay was awarded two grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to...

To make Chesapeake great again, red & blue must strive for green

All of us awoke on Nov. 9 to some unexpected feelings. Whether you felt joy or fear, the future seemed a bit more uncertain. That uncertainty extends to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed as well. For nearly 50 years, the environmental community has been involved in...

New monitoring cooperative aims to expand role of citizen science

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has been involved in many innovative efforts and programs in the 45 years that we’ve been working on Chesapeake Bay issues. We have participated in the creation of new projects and programs that have shaped our approach to engaging the public in...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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