Bay Journal

Lara Lutz

Warm air masks coldwater dangers for paddlers

Parts of the Chesapeake region experienced expectedly warm weather recently, with some days in February feeling more like April. For paddlers, those first bursts of warm weather awaken the call of the kayak. If you count yourself among them, Moulton Avery, director of the National Center for Cold Water Safety, has a message for you: stop and think.

Cross markers show extent of John Smith’s voyages

Ed Haile and Connie Lapallo, authors and historians who specialize in English explorer John Smith and the colonial settlement at Jamestown, VA, are following in Smith’s footsteps. Where Smith traveled with American Indian guides and a few fellow colonists, Haile and Lapallo arrive with concrete mix, a heavy granite marker and a water pail.

They are visiting 24 sites — as...

Skunk cabbage rules the winter wetlands

The annual “swamp stomp” at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a wet, midwinter hike along the forested edge of the Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County, MD. For hike leader and sanctuary volunteer Siobhan Percey, it’s a pilgrimage of love — for the quirky, cunning and sometimes malodorous wetland plant known as Eastern skunk cabbage.


First Day hikes

Expect a rustling in the woods across the Chesapeake Bay region on Jan. 1. Along with shuffling in the sand and, depending on the weather, some sloshing in the snow. That’s because more than 10,000 people will likely be out for a First Day Hike at state parks in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia alone.

First Day Hikes are a nationwide program sponsored by America’s State...

Magothy River map, videos reveal ‘hidden gems’ for paddlers

If your spring plans involve finding new places to kayak along the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, the Magothy River Association has some suggestions. They have a new map highlighting 30 points of interest, and 8 “hidden gems” along the water. To find them, they’ll hand you a copy of their new water trail map. Then, they’ll suggest you find a computer or smart phone.


After 10 years, Smith Trail slowly coming together

Along the James River, an outfitter in the Richmond area now weaves tales of the 17th-century Chesapeake Bay into paddling tours and fishing trips.

Farther north, in Virginia’s Caledon State Park on the Potomac River, kayakers can stay overnight at paddle-in campsites where none existed three years ago.

Still farther north, a new kayak launch on the lower Susquehanna River...

Getting to know Michaux Forest will rock your world

The boulders of Hammonds Rocks, in Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest, are literally ancient history. But they explain a good bit about the present, too.

Michaux State Forest, and the South Mountain ridges on which it rests, is a landscape first formed by shifting continents, later by the blaze of iron furnaces and then the stewardship of state foresters. It’s an epic chain of...

Love of ducks, geese extends from table to tableau

To get extremely close to geese and ducks of the Chesapeake Bay, hunters of a bygone era had a solution: a sinkbox. The coffin-shaped box, wooden with an open top and wide upper rim, was floated in the marsh.

Specially weighted decoys were placed on the rim to submerge the box so that its opening was nearly flush with the water’s surface. The hunter would lower himself into the...

Oyster festival in St. Mary’s County, MD, draws fans from across US

The first time that George Hastings entered the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Contest in St. Mary’s County, MD, he didn’t win. But his bright blue eyes were set on the prize.

“I knew right then I’d be clearing my schedule every third weekend in October and going to St. Mary’s County,” Hastings said. “I told myself, ‘I’m coming here till I win this thing.’ ”

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About Lara Lutz

Lara Lutz's avatar

Lara Lutz is a writer for the Bay Journal and associate editor of Bay Journeys.She has worked as a writer and editor dealing with environmental issues and heritage in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for a variety of organizations and publications since 1995. Lutz is the author of the book “Virginia Indians at Werowocomoco” (National Park Service 2016); “Chesapeake’s Western Shore: Vintage Vacationland,” covering the recreational history of the Bay’s Western Shore; and “Watershed Moments” (Chesapeake Bay Trust 2006), featuring local-level stewardship initiatives in Maryland. Lutz is an Emmy-award winning segment producer for the MPT program Outdoors Maryland, and was the lead writer and editor for the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s Manure-to-Energy report. She holds degrees in English from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and Binghamton University of New York.

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