Bay Journal

December 1995 - Volume 5 - Number 9

Chewing up the landscape

In the 360 years since Leonard Calvert began a New World colony on the banks of the Patuxent River, the population in Central Maryland has covered more than 360,000 acres - roughly 560 square miles - with housing development.

In the next 25 years, if present trends continue, more land will be converted to housing than in the previous three and a half centuries, according to projections by the Maryland Office of Planning.

"It is more than a 100 percent increase in the area that has to have water, sewer, roads, infrastructure and schools," Ronald Kreitner, director of the planning office, told the more than 200 developers, environmentalists, and state, federal and local government officials who gathered at the recent Bay Program conference, "A Quality Landscape," to search for ways to manage growth in the region. ...

Action At The-Local-Level

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series highlighting efforts by citizens and local governments to protect their local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

For nearly a 100 years, the Accomack County Courthouse had been the focus of civic life in the tiny town of Accomac on Virginia's Eastern Shore. With a population of less than 500, the town has never been a bustling metropolis, and many of its businesses - a "lawyers row" of attorneys offices - relate to the courthouse. ...

New publication is a “how-to” guide for local action

If success in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort depends on action at the local level, a new publication catalogs 100 examples that show people are already busy at the task.

"Chesapeake Bay Communities: Making the Connection," provides case studies of local actions that have been taken throughout the watershed to protect waterways and habitats, reduce pollution, manage development, and other actions that can benefit both the local environment and the Bay.

The 190-page catalog was compiled by the Bay Program's Local Government Advisory Committee and its Land, Growth and Stewardship Subcommittee. It highlights innovative projects by local governments, citizen groups and developers that can be applied by others throughout the watershed. For each case study, there is a description of the project, a summary of its benefits and results, information about its cost and funding source, and a contact. ...

Bay Program honors local governments, organizations

Protecting natural resources in the Bay watershed requires more than just federal and state initiatives; it requires local involvement as well.

That view has become clear as the Bay cleanup effort has moved "upstream" in the development of tributary strategies aimed at reducing the amount of pollution reaching the Bay from the major rivers in the watershed. Much of that pollution is closely tied to land use - an area where local governments and individuals have more impact than state and federal agencies. ...

Forest buffer panel moves forward on policy development

After a year of work, a special Bay Program panel has concluded that "a sound foundation of scientific study" supports the idea that "riparian forest buffers provide the greatest range of environmental benefits of any buffer type," and it is proceeding with its task of making recommendations for a Chesapeake Bay forest buffer policy by next fall.

The Chesapeake Executive Council, at its 1995 meeting, had directed that a special Riparian Forest Buffer Panel be created to review issues related to streamside forests and recommend a forest buffer policy with restoration goals to the Council by its 1996 meeting. ...

Executive Council seeks local government help in cleanup

The Bay Program will attempt to "fully engage" the watershed's more than 1,650 local governments in the Chesapeake restoration effort during the next year.

An initiative signed Nov. 30 at the annual Chesapeake Executive Council meeting recognizes local governments as "increasingly important partners" as the Bay Program strives to reach its goal of reducing nutrients entering the Bay 40 percent by the turn of the century.

"For the first time ever, local elected officials will be assured an essential role in the direction and the commitments in the Bay Program," said Virginia Gov. George Allen, outgoing chairman of the Council, "and that is real progress." ...

Oyster diseases make a comeback in Maryland

After a short reprieve, oyster diseases have returned in force to Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay, possibly foreshadowing heavy mortalities next year. The condition in Virginia was even worse as the impact of disease was compounded by a freshet that hammered the state's healthiest remaining oyster population.

Not all the news was bleak, though. While the analysis of this year's data is not yet complete, officials said that oyster restoration projects in both states seem to be yielding positive results. ...

Virginia considers new restrictions on crab harvest

Virginia, which recorded its lowest blue crab catch in 36 years, plans public hearings in January on proposals to curb pressure on the Bay's most valuable fishery, including a freeze on the number of crab pot licenses issued.

The action follows a move by Maryland that sought to curb this year's crab catch by 20 percent. Maryland officials plan additional restrictions for next fall.

"The blue crabs in the Bay are a concern to all of us," Virginia Gov. George Allen said at the annual Chesapeake Executive Council meeting Nov. 30. Allen said it was important that watermen and other affected parties be allowed to comment at what he predicted would be a "well- attended" public hearings before final action was taken, but he added that "we are moving forward." ...

How growth impacts water quality

Land development poses a number of threats to both the habitat and water quality of streams. Planning and development practices can reduce, though not entirely eliminate, many impacts, which include:

Wetlands and forests, which act as natural filters, may be lost to development. Even if they are not directly disturbed, development may increase runoff to these areas or alter their hydrology.

Population growth increases the burden on sewage treatment plants. Growth in areas not served by sewers usually must rely on septic systems which generally are less effective at nutrient removal. ...

A Bay Journal Film, Nassawango Legacy



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