Bay Journal

Opinion

Bay jurisdictions’ no-action climate policy puts restoration in peril

Despite research demonstrating that climate change is adding millions of pounds of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his Bay states colleagues appear to be taking a page from the Trump playbook: Ignore this inconvenient truth.

Doubts about whether climate change is caused by humans and threatens the planet are rapidly going the way of urban legend. Just ask any resident of Puerto Rico, the Gulf Coast or California how life was during the three consecutive hurricanes or the wildfires that have plagued them this summer and fall. Reliable scientific research shows climate change is also compounding pollution in the Chesapeake. Rainfall exacerbated by these dire developments could mean millions of additional pounds of nitrogen and significantly more phosphorus reaching the Bay every year that will put restoration out of reach by 2025.

2018 marks the crucial midpoint assessment that should ensure restoration remains on track, saving the Bay from dead zones and protecting 18 million watershed residents from increased flooding and toxic algae blooms. Yet regional regulators and political leaders recently decided to let themselves ignore climate-induced pollution during this crucial reassessment, kicking this heavy can down the road until 2025 or later.

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We need to shift gears on the pursuit of economic growth

Come ride bikes with me. Don’t dismiss as idle our idyll through an ideal autumn “leafscape” today, for our pedaling shows the way to a better Bay.

My bike has but one speed, unfashionable in a high-geared, tech-fueled world that now affords cyclists push-button shifting through a range of cogs and cranks sufficient to conquer the Alps and pass Porsches.

Single-speeding is limiting — then liberating. It makes you respect the lay of the land, to seek the gentler slopes that meander alongside the hills, to value the wooded corridors that block headwinds.

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You attract more landowners with birds, bees than TMDLs

On a warm Saturday morning this fall, more than 30 landowners gathered on a property in Baltimore County to learn a little about promoting the birds and the bees. Literally. The workshop, titled Get to Know Your Backyard Habitat, invited local residents to see an example of stellar wildlife habitat tended by landowners Pascale Meraldi and Joe Clarke for almost a decade.

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Legacy of passing down the family farm may turn into pipe dream

I have always viewed it as my responsibility to pass on Mt. Rush Farm, our business and property in Buckingham County, VA, to the fifth generation in as good as — or better — condition than I had received it. I never imagined that in the United States, where we pride ourselves on improving our lives through hard work, another business could jeopardize our legacy and future.

The proposed 42-inch, high-pressure Atlantic Coast Pipeline, though, would rip through our property for one mile, scarring our farm, endangering our precious water supply and threatening everything generations of my family have built.

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The dumbing down of Smart Growth will fail to preserve MD landscape

If you’re not yet worried about Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s abandonment of Smart Growth, you might want to read a new study on how Dumb Growth could cost Frederick County taxpayers some half a billion bucks.

First, a brief primer on Smart Growth, which you used to be able to get on the Maryland Department of Planning’s website — until the website and department became a joke under Hogan.

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Bay’s history depended on menhaden; its future will as well

Capt. John Smith’s description of the Chesapeake Bay has long been used as a benchmark to compare this unique ecosystem’s health to what it once was long ago. Recently, many find themselves comparing the Bay of today with the Bay of 40 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.

These constant changes — most noticeably the clarity of the water and abundance of your favorite species — can’t always be linked to a single phenomenon. One species of fish, though, stands out among the rest as its well-being is directly linked to the overall health of the Bay: the menhaden.

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Forum explores connections between healthy lands, waters, people

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s 12th Annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum takes place Nov. 3–5, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. In keeping with this year’s theme, Healthy Lands, Healthy Waters, Healthy People, the event will explore how the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed affects the communities that live in it. In conjunction with this theme, the Alliance is focusing on engaging the health community, as well as the communities who are most directly affected by environmental health disparities.

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EPA may have shifted its priorities, but ours remain the same

As a news organization, it’s always uncomfortable to be in the news, as opposed to just reporting it. But political appointees in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have put us in the headlines.

As you have read in related articles, the EPA told us without warning in late August that it plans to revoke a six-year award to partially fund the Bay Journal, beginning in 2018.

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Damn the torpedoes, save the Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act is 45 years old this month, born in the U.S. Congress on October 18, 1972. Sometime before that day, the river of my childhood — the Roanoke River in southwestern Virginia — had been declared a fire hazard because of pollution.

I learned to waterski on that river, or rather on one of the manmade lakes along its winding path. It was 1965, and I remember one of those skiing lessons in particular. Dad was the spotter, and his friend George was the driver. I jumped in the water and waited for the handles of the ski rope. With the tips of my skis up and my butt down, I yelled, "forward!"

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Eagles’ road to recovery puts them on collision course with humans

There’s no mistaking the white head and tail. I saw a bald eagle swooping over my yard for the first time. I had seen them increasingly while driving across the Blackwater River and even passed three regulars almost every day on my commute to Salisbury, MD.

Now they had settled in the area. A neighbor had seen a nest on a dirt road near my home.

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There’s no place like home to begin saving the Earth

How was your summer getaway?

“Trip from hell,” my neighbors reported. They’d headed west to escape the mugginess, traffic, politics and heat of our Eastern states, hungry for clear mountain vistas, cool breezes, hikes and fly-fishing in Montana.

Instead, haze and heat met them. The warmed trout streams of drought-stricken Montana barely trickled. “We ate smoke for days,” they said. Wildfires surrounded them — even pouring smoke down from Canada.

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Opinion: Archives

What’s black and white and should be read by greens?

People are surprised when I say that for my profession of environmental writing, I read as much as I can absorb about economics and business. Put articles from the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation next...

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Around the Watershed

Hogan takes reins of Council at a critical time for the Chesapeake

In the end, it was a custom-made crab cracker, made from the wood of the Pride of Baltimore, and a crab baseball hat that sealed the transition. On June 8 at the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Executive Council, Gov. Terry McAuliffe officially handed over the...

The Bay Program: It takes a partnership to save an estuary

As the story goes, the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay began with a boat trip. In 1973, after hearing reports of the estuary’s ailing health, Sen. Charles “Mac” Mathias, R-MD, set out on a “fact-finding tour”: a five-day trip traversing the Maryland portion of...

We must turn instant gratification into burning desire for clean Bay

The views expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal. The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, or 4.5 eons. Of that time, humans have only been around for about 200,000 years, with civilization only beginning about 6,000 years ago and industrialization,...

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Chesapeake Born

We need to shift gears on the pursuit of economic growth

Come ride bikes with me. Don’t dismiss as idle our idyll through an ideal autumn “leafscape” today, for our pedaling shows the way to a better Bay. My bike has but one speed, unfashionable in a high-geared, tech-fueled world that now affords cyclists push-button...

The dumbing down of Smart Growth will fail to preserve MD landscape

If you’re not yet worried about Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s abandonment of Smart Growth, you might want to read a new study on how Dumb Growth could cost Frederick County taxpayers some half a billion bucks. First, a brief primer on Smart Growth, which you used to be able to...

Tangier Island needs help no matter how you define its woes

When I began a documentary film this year about climate change and the Chesapeake, I knew that even though local residents were affected by it, I’d never be able to record most of them talking about sea level rise. They know what they see. And around Dorchester —...

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Conservation Matters

Terrapin park shows importance of access to the Bay

The Terrapin Nature Area in Stevensville, MD, reminds me why I’ve committed my career to conservation. This gorgeous park hides in plain sight on Kent Island, waving to everyone traveling eastward over the Bay Bridge, and offers so much to its visitors. Managed by Queen...

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...

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Forum

Bay jurisdictions’ no-action climate policy puts restoration in peril

Despite research demonstrating that climate change is adding millions of pounds of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his Bay states colleagues appear to be taking a page from the Trump playbook: Ignore this inconvenient truth. Doubts about whether...

Now’s not the time for EPA to repeal rule reducing carbon emissions

As promised, the Trump administration has acted to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama era rule aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The administration’s refusal to address climate change is short-sighted in countless ways, as we in the Chesapeake region already understand...

Legacy of passing down the family farm may turn into pipe dream

I have always viewed it as my responsibility to pass on Mt. Rush Farm, our business and property in Buckingham County, VA, to the fifth generation in as good as — or better — condition than I had received it. I never imagined that in the United States, where we pride ourselves...

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...

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Message from the Alliance

You attract more landowners with birds, bees than TMDLs

On a warm Saturday morning this fall, more than 30 landowners gathered on a property in Baltimore County to learn a little about promoting the birds and the bees. Literally. The workshop, titled Get to Know Your Backyard Habitat, invited local residents to see an example of stellar...

Forum explores connections between healthy lands, waters, people

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s 12th Annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum takes place Nov. 3–5, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. In keeping with this year’s theme, Healthy Lands, Healthy Waters, Healthy People, the event will explore...

Kate Fritz, former head of South River Federation, to lead Alliance

Kate Fritz is no stranger to the issues that face the Chesapeake Bay watershed, having lived in five of the seven Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions. Fritz joins the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay as the new executive director, bringing more than 15 years of experience in scientific data...

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