Tubes fail to break waves

I enjoyed your article, "From shipping lanes to shorelines" (Bay Journal, October 1996). You did a commendable job of proposing the alternatives to dredged material deposition, and the frequent tradeoffs that must be weighed in making final placement decisions. As an environmentalist and ecologist, I find it rewarding that the "Beneficial Use" program has gained popularity nationwide.

In the Chesapeake Bay, there is clearly a need for both wetland and upland restoration, especially of the islands.

One criticism I would raise concerns your article on the use of geotextile tubes as containment vessels. These should still be considered experimental at this stage. At the four island sites that I have visited, the tubes that are designed to protect the dredged material and plantings are not meeting full specification. They tend to flatten after installation and, at high tide, are usually fully submersed, offering little protection during wind and storm surges.

At all sites I visited, much of the planted material had either been buried or washed away in the same year it was planted. Without further reinforcement of the material and better placement methods, these tubes have very limited application where wave energy is significant. Because they are less expensive and are environmentally "friendlier" than hard structures, tubes are certainly preferred if possible and improvements should be researched.

R. Michael Erwin
Keswick, Va.

Population a growing concern

How refreshing it was to hear someone concerning himself with the increasing population problem. I would like to congratulate the Bay Journal for printing Cliff Terry's commentary ("Sprawl is a people, not property problem" November 1996) on an issue that seems to have been neglected far too long. It's a shame that citizens across this great country do not realize the stress and impact of population growth. Exponential growth is horrific! Because the Bay Journal is read by so many citizens concerned with the environment and environmental issues, maybe, if only a few, will take notice.

Also, thank you for producing such a fine newspaper. I look forward to reading the Bay Journal every month and have been educated on many issues concerning the watershed. Keep up the good work!

Traci York
Virginia Beach, Va.

Solutions to sprawl off-base

Mr. Terry ("Sprawl is a people, not property problem" Bay Journal, November 1996) has postulated some theories regarding sprawl, and its impact on the Bay, from a population management point of view. Some of these ideas have a glimmer of truth in them, but his interpretation of the socioeconomic dynamics of the situation is naive or at least misinformed.

Mr. Terry's assertion that government should "...stop trying to entice business to move in..." has little validity. The issue is not to stop, but to direct efforts in the direction of more environmentally aware businesses. Places like the inner cities of Baltimore or Philadelphia are in a position of special need for new sources of employment. Ignoring that reality will only hasten the demise of the cities and encourage flight to the suburbs along with the sprawl that will create.

The most insidious elements of Mr. Terry's commentary are the assertion that the responsibility of controlling population growth should rest solely with middle class families, who currently have the smallest average family size in history, and the glaring lack of culpability expected from the poor or those on welfare, even though those families tend to be substantially larger than those same middle class families.

There is more, so much more, but I am sure others will reach similar conclusions and I need to leave space for them.

Michael Somers
Annapolis, Md.