Let seniors help oyster effort

After reading about the oysters being taken from the Choptank River (“Oysters stolen from Choptank study reefs,” December 2000), I wonder why the Maryland Department of Natural Resources doesn’t take advantage of the potential help that could be available to them.

There are many retired persons that love to fish and they could easily become the eyes and ears to report such problems, if the DNR would only ask. The DNR could ask by putting a notice in the Bay Journal or through senior citizens centers throughout the state.

This could become a large watchdog force composed of those who are on the Bay and its tributaries more than any other group.

J.R. Walker
Glen Burnie, MD

Win-Win efforts

I have been a reader for a few years now and love to keep up with the Bay news, health of the Bay, and current/future projects to make the Bay better for all of us.

A number of years ago, my stepfather, uncle and I all had sailboats at Bowleys Quarters. We loved to sail and fish.

Today, we love to visit lighthouses and fly fish the Bay and our beautiful rivers and lakes. We love outings to the Bay and ocean.

After reading your journal for a number of years with interest, something about the January-February 2001 issue really gave me hope and admiration for the people who are working so hard to preserve and enhance our natural resources.

I especially loved the articles on chicken wastes (“EPA proposes rules to restrict management of animal wastes” and “Excess chicken waste to fuel plans for Delmarva power plants”) and “Bay cleanup takes root on Amish farms.”

Knowing how bad the chicken waste problem has been, it is gratifying to see light.

My wife and I regularly fish Pennsylvania trout streams and come in contact with the Amish people and their heritage. The solutions put forth are nothing short of brilliant! What a wonderful coexistence and balance of nature and resources. It makes sense!

If only others could see how beneficial this is … perhaps more good things could happen. This is a win-win situation. In the Navy, we would award you the BZ — Bravo Zulu for a job well done!

I will now try to find a place to volunteer in this wonderful effort.

On behalf of those who never write, except to complain, or never give a BZ, let my extend my heartfelt appreciation in their absence. There are a lot of us out there who care, we want to thank you for your efforts, and stand by to assist.

Harvey Lybolt
Cockeysville, MD

CBF thwarted poultry groups

Good job on the article about Fibroshore, “Excess chicken waste to fuel plans for Delmarva power plants,” (January–February 2001) and the efforts of the poultry companies to help solve nutrient problems. Please note Mike Hirshfield’s comments, “This is precisely what we had hoped would happen.”

What your readers should know is that the poultry companies were going to do more for water quality with a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Maryland, but the Chesapeake Bay Foundation helped to scuttle the deal and ruined what good faith and trust had been built up between companies, growers, and some environmental groups and regulators.

Instead, the same tired old solutions of heavy-handed regulations and fines were promulgated via the co-permitting concept. Now, instead of innovative and voluntary solutions, we can go to court.

What a shame for water quality in the state.

Kenny Bounds
Past president
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.

Give credit to source of funds

I enjoyed your short article on National Public Lands Day activities at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, “Army of volunteers, soldiers celebrate Public Lands Day,” (November 2000).

However, your article did omit one part of the funding equation when it stated that “all of the NPLD projects were made possible by grants from the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation."

While true, this statement fails to acknowledge where NEETF gets its funds — from corporate sponsors, service organizations and agencies such as the Department of Defense.

Specifically, funds for projects at APG and more than 20 other military bases came from DoD’s Legacy Resource Management Program. Legacy funds regional conservation partnerships such as NEETF and other broad-scale conservation initiatives that benefit military land management.

Peter Boice
Conservation director
ODUSD(ES)EQ-CO

Virginia swan hunt

The Nov. 2000 Bay Journal included interesting articles about the tundra swans that winter in the Bay and farther south along the coast (Bay Naturalist’s “Tundra swans en route to winter home on Chesapeake”) and about a project that is attempting to restore a migratory population of trumpeter swans to the mid-Atlantic Coast (“Swans ready to ‘follow the leader’ to Bay”).

It is unfortunate that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has a hunting season for tundra swans. I believe it is one of the few states along with the Dakotas, Montana and Utah that have swan hunting.

As the trumpeter swan has a very close resemblance to the tundra swan, it will be at risk when tundra swans are hunted. Swan hunting can only inhibit attempts to restore the trumpeter swan to its historic range.

Paul M. Brown
Pittsburgh, PA

Bay report needs more details

Kudos to Karl Blankenship for the excellent article on nutrients, “Nutrient goals for Bay within striking distance,” in the January issue of the Bay Journal. Brickbats to the Bay Program!

Why? With all respect to Karl, his article simply is not a substitute for a serious in-depth report analyzing our progress toward the most important commitment ever made by the Bay Program.

Where is the background detail, the description of the sources of model information, explanations of the assumptions made in the models? Where is the subwatershed information, the kind that will let us know where progress has and hasn’t been made? What is the basis for the often-repeated statement that we will meet our 40 percent goal in just a few more years?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be dealt with in a thoughtful report. I have been told that the Bay Program is working on a report that will answer all my questions about nutrients, the models, and more. I hope that is true.

I also hope it will be printed; as much as I like the web, I think this is one report that will have some shelf life.

As we work toward a clean Bay by 2010, clear information made easily accessible will be critical. A detailed look at where we stand today would be a great place to start.

Mike Hirshfield
Vice president for resource protection
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Biodiversity must be preserved

In reading Bay Journal articles regarding the loss of the Chesapeake Bay region’s forests, I am struck by the omission of the need to preserve biodiversity at the local population level (e.g., The genetic makeup of the oak trees on Maryland’s Eastern Shore may be different from those on the Western Shore.)

The Pennsylvania Biological Survey, in their November 1999 draft, “Recommendations for the Management of Natural Genetic Diversity on Pennsylvania State Forest Lands,” explains why a local source of trees for replanting, absent local regeneration, is important in the long-term health of forests. They recommend that “the seed of all plant stock used on state forest land should be native (autochthonous) to the genetic conservation zone [Pennsylvania has 13 such zones.] in which it is being used.”

A question I would like to see discussed is whether Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia tree planting programs guarantee the integrity of a local population’s genetic diversity? If the answer is no, which I suspect it is, does not doing so pose a risk, both ecologically and economically, to the natural patterns of genetic variation in this region’s trees?

Rodger Waldman
Seven Valleys, PA