Bay Journal

July-August 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 5

Bayscapes theme for Alliance annual, meeting, Annapolis tour

A successful program to restore the Chesapeake Bay - particularly as the region's population continues to grow - will depend upon citizens throughout the watershed taking individual actions that begin in their own backyards and gardens.

That is the message behind the BayScapes program, which was featured as part of a walking tour through gardens of Annapolis in conjunction with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's annual meeting June 10.

"It's a critical program to deal with us - people," said John Wolflin, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Chesapeake Bay Field Office, which helped develop BayScapes with the Alliance. "I can't think of a better way to start an environmental education program than in our own back yards." ...

Record shad return reported in Susquehanna

More than 32,000 American shad swam up the Susquehanna River this spring, setting a new record for the 2-decade-old effort to return the migratory fish to what used to be its largest East Coast spawning ground.

The 32,330 shad captured in the fish lift at the Conowingo Dam was up sharply from the 13,500 caught last year and surpassed the previous record of 27,200 set in 1991. The fish lift quit operation for the year in mid-June as the numbers of returning shad dwindled.

"It's a good year," said Richard St. Pierre, Susquehanna River Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It's amazing that we're talking about closing down operations because we only have 50 fish a day. There were years where those were the big days, and we would go on even with five fish a day." ...

Experiment with Japanese oysters ends abruptly

AN experiment testing the ability of non-native Japanese oysters to resist diseases in the Chesapeake Bay was abruptly halted last fall after researchers found some of the bivalves - thought to have been sterilized - were capable of reproducing.

The controversial experiment had been allowed in the York River last June only after scientists offered assurances that the oysters would receive a treatment that would make any chance of natural reproduction almost nonexistent.

Critics feared that if the oysters reproduced, the foreign species could spread throughout the Chesapeake, resulting in unpredictable consequences both for the ecosystem and for the already troubled native oyster. ...

Congress may fund disease-free oyster hatchery

Maryland has moved closer to opening a special hatchery to rear oyster larvae free of disease - a key component of a statewide oyster restoration strategy approved last fall.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-Md.), recently succeeded in having an appropriations subcommittee allot $500,000 for the project.

"Our watermen are losing jobs, our state is losing a historic industry, our people are losing a delicacy, and the Chesapeake Bay is suffering as a decline in the oyster population affects the water quality of the Bay," Hoyer said. "In speaking with the s ubcommittee members, I indicated the urgency in beginning to turn around this decline and through this appropriation, we will begin that process." ...

Gigas experiment bolsters hopes for disease - resistant oyster

Experiments with the Japanese oyster in the York River last year raised serious questions about the commercial value of that species in the Bay, but it bolstered hopes that a disease-resistant strain of oyster may be developed for the Chesapeake.

The test oysters grew slowly during the experiment and were heavily infested by worms native to the Bay, the researchers found, but the oysters proved to be resistant to the diseases that have devastated the native population, sending harvests to histori clows. ...

1993 freshet failed to budge sediment behind Conowingo Dam

The large 1993 freshet that sent the largest amount of fresh water down the Susquehanna since Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 failed to "scour" the huge amount of sediments behind the Conowingo Dam.

In fact, figures from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission indicate that - despite the large flows - slightly more material was accumulated in the reservoir behind the dam than was washed out during 1993.

"All the material that was there is still there, and probably a little bit more," said Lloyd Reed, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. ...

Policy seeks to control new species entering the Bay

A new policy adopted by the Bay Program may help resolve the sometimes sharp differences between jurisdictions over the use and introduction of non-native species in the watershed.

States have the authority to decide what species they will allow to be used within their waterways, but because rivers - and the Bay - cross boundaries, the decision of one jurisdiction can affect another.

The new "Chesapeake Bay Policy for the Introduction of Non-Indigenous Species" is aimed at making sure all the issues related to a species introduction are thoroughly reviewed before a final decision about the introduction of an "exotic" species is made. ...

Clinton gives landscape directive to federal agencies

BayScapes-type principles are about to become the law of the landscape for federal facilities and for federally funded projects.

An executive order issued by President Bill Clinton in April outlines "environmentally and economically beneficial" practices that will help conserve water, prevent pollution, and minimize adverse impacts when landscaping activities take place.

"These landscaping practices should benefit the environment, as well as generate long-term cost savings for the federal government," the executive order said. "For example, the use of native plants not only protects our natural heritage and provides wild life habitat, but also can reduce fertilizer, pesticide, and irrigation demands and their associated costs because native plants are suited to the local environment and climate." ...

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