Bay Journal

November 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 8

International teams focus on land use in Bay committees

Robert Berkheimer is a farmer who has practiced his trade in Cumberland County, Pa., all his life. “You hear so often about people getting out of college and not knowing what they are going to do with their life. I think that’s terrible,” Berkheimer said. “I knew when I was five years old what I was going to do with my life, and where I was going to do it.”

Among the land that he farms is the 65 acres that his great-great-grandfather originally purchased in 1849. But Berkheimer’s way of life has been challenged in recent decades. A 119-house subdivision built in 1971 presses up to one side of his farm. “They don’t like the smell of manure, they don’t like the combine running at night. There’s a lot of things they don’t like.” ...

Analysis confirms Bay nutrient reduction goal is achievable

The 40 percent nutrient reduction that the Bay jurisdictions have committed to is technically feasible, though many hurdles remain in reaching that goal, a new report for the Executive Council concludes.

An analysis by the EPA’s Bay Program Office of the draft tributary strategies developed by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia concludes that “currently available point source and nonpoint source practices and technologies can be used to meet the overall goal.” ...

Council adopts framework for Bay habitat restoration

The 1987 Bay Agreement called for the Bay Program to “provide for the restoration and protection of living resources, their habitats, and ecological relationships.”

Until now, the main Baywide effort to improve habitat has focused on improving water quality through nutrient reductions. While habitat restoration efforts have taken place — such as shoreline stabilization, oyster reef development, and wetlands construction — those efforts have been largely opportunistic and uncoordinated. ...

Council pledges to coordinate nutrient certification programs

The Executive Council signed a directive at its Oct. 14 meeting that will make it easier for private agricultural consultants to help farmers develop nutrient management plans throughout the Bay region.

The directive commits Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland to develop reciprocal agreements for their nutrient management certification programs.

Certification programs set standards for private consultants who write nutrient management plans for farmers. The reciprocal agreement will mean that once certified, a professional will be able to develop plans for farmers throughout the Bay region. ...

Executive Council calls for policy promoting forest buffers

At one time, it’s been said, a squirrel could have traveled from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Mississippi River without touching ground. But the thick forests that once made that possible in North America have long since been laid open for fields, subdivisions and highways.

Loss of those forests may have changed more than just the landscape, recent research suggests. Forests, particularly those located along streams, play an important role in protecting water quality and in providing habitat for fish and other aquatic species. ...

Council adopts revised toxics reduction strategy

The Chesapeake Executive Council approved a controversial new toxics strategy that seeks to reduce the amounts of toxics entering the Bay through largely voluntary pollution prevention efforts. It encourages industries to cut discharges in half by the turn of the century, while federal facilities are asked to set an example by making reductions of 75 percent.

The new “Basinwide Toxics Reduction and Prevention Strategy” also seeks to target the greatest risks to the Bay by cleaning up known “hot spots” and by singling out a handful of chemicals that pose the greatest threat for further reduction efforts. ...

States agree to NOX reductions; benefits to the Bay are uncertain

A coalition of Northeastern states, including those around the Chesapeake Bay, have agreed on a plan to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions from large fossil fuel burning facilities, chiefly power plants.

The agreement signed at a Sept. 27 meeting of the Ozone Transport Commission could help reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay, but the extent of that help is uncertain.

NOX emissions are estimated to contribute about one-quarter of the nitrogen that reaches the Chesapeake. Nitrogen is a major source of the Bay’s pollution problems, triggering large algae blooms in salt water areas. Ultimately, those blooms deplete the water of oxygen needed by other species. ...

Zebra mussels pressing toward Bay watershed

Zebra mussels are slowly closing in on the Chesapeake Bay, but the thumb-nail-size bivalve which has been wreaking havoc in the Great Lakes has not spread into the Bay watershed as rapidly as officials had feared only a few years ago.

In September, a zebra mussel was discovered in the Allegheny River in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was the first time the exotic species was found in any of the Bay states outside Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, they are slowly pushing up the Tennessee River system toward southwestern Virginia, though they are still about 100 miles away from that state’s border — and even further away from the Chesapeake drainage. ...

At time of change, Bay leaders vow to keep course

On a rainy, cold October morning, the top policy-makers for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup got a first-hand look at some of the things they were trying to accomplish.

Standing in the drizzle at Jefferson-Patterson Park in Southern Maryland, the six council members — only two of whom will be back next year — examined a forested buffer strip along the Patuxent River.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do here is keep the fertility on the land and out of the water,” Nick Carter, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said of the buffer strip. “This living mechanism will do it without a whole lot of engineering … this is the cheapest, most efficient thing there is.” ...

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