Bay Journal

April 1991 - Volume 1 - Number 2
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MD leaders pledge support for environmental protections amid Trump rollback

Maryland’s legislative leaders delighted environmental advocates Thursday by vowing to strengthen the state’s forest conservation law, increase renewable energy and pass other green initiatives, while resisting environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration. It remains to be seen whether election-year politics will help those prospects.  

The 23rd annual environmental legislative summit in Annapolis drew a standing room only crowd to hear pitches — and pledges of support — for green groups’ top priorities during the 90-day General Assembly session that began Jan. 10.

“We’re going to make us the most environmentally friendly state in America,” House Speaker Michael Busch declared, to enthusiastic applause. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller voiced similar sentiment, predicting that amid upcoming debates over taxes, spending and other tough issues, “the one thing we’re going to agree on is the environment.”

Save the date(s) for 2018!

Celebrate the Chesapeake year-round! Get out your 2018 calendar and save these dates that mark activities and resources to help you get the most out of living near the Bay.

EPA lifts ban on pesticide known to cause brain damage in children

Science tells us that nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment are the systemic pollutants of the Bay and its tributaries. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint seeks to reduce those pollutants to sustainable levels.

It is working. Water quality is improving, dead zones are diminishing and underwater grasses are at levels not seen in 30 years.

But these are not the only pollutants of concern. A recent decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will reverse a prior agency decision to ban the use of a chemical pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which is acutely toxic to Bay life and has been found to cause brain damage in children.

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Is organic farming good for the Chesapeake?

Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of the food industry in the United States, and its footprint in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is growing in kind.

The brand of agriculture that eschews the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and genetically engineered ingredients now makes up 20 percent of Perdue Farms’ poultry production on the Delmarva Peninsula, where the company is headquartered.

Smaller poultry producers in the region also are growing their organic operations at a steady clip: Bell & Evans, which is based in Fredericksburg, PA, and sells its chicken meat to high-end retailers such as Whole Foods Market, launched its line of organic products in 2009 and opened a certified organic hatchery this year. Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Organic opened its first processing facility in Harrisonburg in 2014, providing contract growers interested in making the switch with an alternative buyer in that region.

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How big was last year’s dead zone? It depends on when you ask

It was quite a surprise: Two reports on Chesapeake Bay dissolved oxygen levels in 2017 came to starkly different conclusions. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported improvements and a vastly reduced dead zone. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science found oxygen conditions at their worst since 2014.

Scientists at both organizations were caught off guard last fall when the seemingly contradictory findings were released within a few weeks of each other and sent them scrambling to analyze the cause. 

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Trauma center provides creature comforts for injured, ailing animals

Tucked away on the outskirts of sleepy Waynesboro, VA, there’s a bustling trauma center for sick and injured wildlife. Think “M*A*S*H” with feathers and fur, featuring the tough triage decisions doctors have to make upon admitting new patients. But here, the patient list is wildly diverse: On any given day, the Wildlife Center of Virginia might see a listless bear cub brought in sick from eating rat poison, a bald eagle dying from ingesting lead bullet fragments in a deer carcass, and a king snake run over by a lawnmower. And that’s just before noon.

Resolve to do the best you can to advance clean water in 2018

As we start to turn the page on 2017, I wanted to brainstorm some ideas for resolutions we can share as a community for 2018.

The new year is a time to reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished in the past year and to commit to new habits and practices moving forward. The start of a new year is a time of transition and an opportunity for intentionality. In this list of resolutions, I offer some thoughts on opportunities that we, as the community focused on improving the Chesapeake region, have together in 2018.

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Hogan announces MD will join state coalition to fight climate change

Declaring that the need for states to work together to fight climate change “grows stronger every day,” Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that Maryland would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a mostly Democratic coalition of states committed to reducing greenhouse gases.

The move, disclosed in a letter released by Hogan’s office, represents a shift for the Republican governor, who had remained noncommittal to pleas last year for Maryland to join the alliance, saying he wasn’t sure what the group’s intentions were.

In the letter to the alliance, Hogan recalled that he had publicly disagreed with President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord reached by nearly 200 nations, including the United States.

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PA fishing fee politics could close shad hatchery on the Juniata

Since it began rearing shad 41 years ago, Pennsylvania’s Van Dyke Research Station has released more than 227 million tiny fish into the Susquehanna River basin.

But this might be the last year that the hatchery — located along the Juniata River, one of the Susquehanna’s main tributaries — rears and releases the migratory fish. The operation may fall victim to a budget dispute between lawmakers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

State cuts take toll on many programs

The recession-wracked economies of all three Bay states have forced cutbacks in many environmental programs as officials try to shore up deficits.

In the current 1991 fiscal year, Pennsylvania must cut spending to avoid a $1 billion budget deficit; Maryland is cutting back to avoid a deficit of more than $400 million; and Virginia — which operates on a two-year budget — has had a funding gap of more than $2 billion.

Generally, officials in all three states say they have sought to avoid the wholesale elimination of programs, but some activities are being put off — the purchase of open spaces in Maryland, for example — and some services are being cut.

States, federal governments fall short — just barely — of Reilly’s 1990 goals

Figures recently released by EPA Region III show that the Bay states and federal facilities came close — but barely fell short — of an environmental compliance goal set by EPA Administrator William K. Reilly more than a year ago.

At the December 1989 Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting, Reilly set a 1990 goal of bringing all 50 major federal facilities in the Bay watershed into compliance with federal environmental laws.

Reilly also set a goal of reducing by half 'significant noncompliance' at the 330 major wastewater dischargers — which includes sewage treatment plants and some federal and industrial facilities — in the Bay watershed.

Growth management and the Bay

In the decade following the settling of Jamestown, some 6,000 people were lured to the colony, many in hopes of becoming rich land owners. An emigrant able to pay his own way to the colony would get 50 acres — and another 50 for every head he brought with him. Eventually, the offer grew to 100 acres.

On the average over the next decade, Virginia is expected to gain about as many people every six weeks as it gained in its first decade.

Needless to say, they will not be getting 100 acres per head

Auto repair shop gets environmental tune up

As soon as you walk into Ecotech Autoworks, it's easy to tell this is no ordinary auto repair shop.

Just look at the magazines: Garbage; Sierra; Buzzworm; E Magazine. The back issues are stacked in a box with a note that says "Please help yourself to a spare environmental publication"

And then there are the signs hanging everywhere: "What happens to discarded tires?? You are standing on them!! Flooring tiles made from scrap tires!! A unique solution to a disposal dilemma."

Winter Wildlife Fest 2018
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