Bay Journal

Rebecca Hanmer

Future beginning to look brighter for Chesapeake’s native oysters

Peer into the cold waters at the mouth of the Rappahannock River during these winter months and, with some luck, you’ll see a sweet sight that has delighted epicures for centuries—Crassostrea virginica, better known as our native Chesapeake oyster. And if you look even harder, you might find yourself gazing at the future of the Bay, not simply a remnant of its former glory.

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Setting goals for the Bay’s cleanup is futile unless we’re also setting our minds to it

In the press and in legislative chambers across the watershed, the same question echoes: Can we reach the ambitious goals of restoring water quality in the Chesapeake and its tidal rivers by 2010?

Computer simulations tell us that over the last 20 years we have pared the nitrogen pollution load by an estimated 71 million pounds. We need more than 90 million pounds more.

A few will...

Money doesn’t grow on trees, or does it?

Longer ago than I care to admit, I was a teenager planning my college education. I wanted to be a forestry major. Studying trees and having a career in the woods were highly appealing.

In the 1950s, though, forestry programs were pretty much dominated by timber industry concerns. My dad was urged to “cut down the hardwoods and plant loblolly pine” on our Virginia farm. (He...

It’s impossible to look back without looking ahead

I’ll soon be stepping down as director of the Chesapeake Bay Program Office. For the first few months of 2007, I’ll be wrapping things up while also working on a special project for the EPA in Washington, D.C. Then I’ll retire from federal government service, ending a career that started more than 40 years ago.

Not surprisingly, I find myself taking stock. I hope you’ll...

We must change to be better, not change to be different

We are at a critical point in the Bay Program partnership’s history. The cooperative federal-state enterprise has developed the science to understand what ails the Bay. And we have even developed the most comprehensive set of cleanup plans—the states’ tributary strategies—that have ever been assembled. The Bay Program has a strong history of putting an extraordinary array...

Food for thought: Save a farm to save the Bay

Agricultural runoff is the largest single source sector for the three main pollutants that foul the Chesapeake.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agricultural operations feed algae that block essential sunlight and, when the algae decompose, they rob the water of life-giving oxygen. Sediments wash off the lands, eventually clouding the water and smothering bottom-dwelling...

We’ve weathered this storm but there are still clouds in Bay’s future

In 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes ripped its way up the Chesapeake watershed, leaving huge swaths of destruction, especially in the upper Susquehanna.

Massive flooding hit dozens of towns. More than 100 people lost their lives and the system caused millions of dollars in property damage, making it one of the most destructive storms to hit the region in modern times.

As its name...

Watershed grants help small projects produce big results

The edge of a farm field on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is of marginal productivity. It sits in a small depression, adjacent to a stream, and the soil stays too wet during much of the year, often causing the crops in this section to rot before they can be harvested. Decades earlier, this parcel had been a wetland, and the damp soil serves as a constant reminder of that former...

What’s good/bad for the Chesapeake is the same for nation’s streams

The first national assessment of stream health in the United States, released by the EPA in early May, indicates that more than half of all the wadeable streams in the U.S. eastern highlands are in poor health, largely because of excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution. Across the nation, the results are only slightly better, with 42 percent of all the streams in the...

Dry spring offers hope for this summer; now’s the time to think about 2007

Later this month, the Bay Program will issue its second annual “Summer Forecast,” an attempt to predict key ecological conditions in the Chesapeake in the coming months. Using spring stream-flow measures, a rich 20-year monitoring program data set, and some sophisticated computer simulations, we will report on expected dissolved oxygen conditions, the potential for harmful...

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About Rebecca Hanmer

Dick Williams, LEED AP® BD+C, consults on high-efficiency construction and sustainability and writes and blogs to address his curiosity about humankind’s impact on the biosphere. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.

 

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