Bay Journal

June 1996 - Volume 6 - Number 4

Report seeks 1,200 more miles of streamside forests

The Bay states should restore at least 1,200 miles of streamside forests by the year 2010, and ultimately return 75 percent of the watershed's streambanks to their natural forested condition, suggests a draft Bay Program report.

The report says the goal should be accomplished through incentive programs that encourage landowners to voluntarily protect and restore 75-foot-wide forest buffers along streams.

The recommendations reflect the work of a special 31-member Riparian Forest Buffer Panel that included representatives from government, agriculture, developers and other interests. The report was written by a technical advisory group to the panel and is now being distributed for comment. ...

Baltimore leaders offer incentives to reduce ozone emission

The Baltimore area has some of the worst air quality on the East Coast and last summer violated federal air quality standards on 14 days.

This summer, government and business leaders want to reduce that number. How? By encouraging car pooling, brown-bag lunches and restrictions on highway trips within their organizations and communities.

A program unveiled May 28 called "Ozone Action Days" is designed to reduce the concentration of ground-level ozone, or smog.

"For two weeks last year, our air was not fit to breath," Gov. Parris Glendening said at a ceremony in the Inner Harbor with EPA Administrator Carol Browner. ...

Dredging decision for Baltimore due in September

Gov. Parris Glendening promised leaders of Baltimore's maritime community that he will make final decisions by Sept. 1 on a plan that will meet the Port of Baltimore's dredging needs for the next 20 years.

Keeping the shipping lanes dredged is considered a key to the port's ability to thrive in the face of fierce competition from Norfolk and other East Coast ports.

Glendening's comments came during a speech to the Private Sector Port Committee, made up of representatives of shipping businesses, labor and government agencies such as the Coast Guard. ...

Bay grasses declined in ‘95

The amount of grasses in the Chesapeake fell 8.4 percent last year, the second straight year of decline for what is considered to be one of the Bay's best indicators of water quality.

Lingering effects from the large, back-to-back freshets that hit the Bay in the springs of 1993 and 1994 are thought to be the most likely reason for the submerged aquatic vegetation's (SAV) decline.

"It's my gut feeling that those have made a difference in some of the [SAV] populations in the Bay," said Robert Orth, a scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who conducts an annual Baywide survey of grass beds. "My feeling is they're feeling the effects." ...

Large spring algae blooms pose array of possibilities

Fish swimming along the North Carolina coast this spring may be especially well fed, thanks to New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other far-flung reaches of the Chesapeake watershed.

In an unusual event, scientists this year have observed huge amounts of algae flowing out of the Bay and onto the coastal shelf. It is a sign, they say, that chlorophyll concentrations - a measure of algae production - are among the highest ever observed in the Chesapeake. More algae was produced than could be consumed within the Bay. ...

Utility plan a jolt to Bay cleanup effort

A federal plan aimed at slashing electric prices by deregulating utilities, some warn, could have an unwanted side effect: Making it more difficult to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and reduce chronically high ozone levels in East Coast cities.

At issue is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's new "open access" rule requiring public utilities to open their transmission facilities to other power generators. The rule, in effect, promotes competition between utilities as electricity could be sold across the power grid to locations hundreds of miles away. ...

Crab index rises sharply, reflects successful spawn

Bolstered by a huge spawn of young crabs, the number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake rose dramatically this winter after several years of declines or no improvement, an annual Baywide survey shows.

This year's "index" - a relative measure of abundance - was 15.5. That was up dramatically from the 8.5 level recorded in last year's Baywide winter dredge survey, and the 9.58 index reported in 1994.

But officials cautioned that the numbers primarily reflected the highly successful reproduction of the blue crabs - 71 percent of those caught were juveniles less than 1 year old. When the tremendous amount of young were factored out, the number of adults in the Bay rose only slightly. ...

Key objectives to reaching riparian forest goals

Restoring forests along streams in the Chesapeake drainage through voluntary means will require new educational and incentive programs. Many of the tools that could promote riparian forest buffers exist but need to be streamlined and better focused, the draft report of the Riparian Forest Buffer Panel said.

To reach its goal, the panel's report outlined a series of key objectives - increasing public involvement, enhancing existing public programs, providing incentives, encouraging private partnerships and supporting science and research - and suggested a number of potential actions for each. ...

Md. Watershed foresters lure trout with seedlings

Dave Warnock was standing knee-deep in the creek, electrofishing gear strapped onto his back and a electric rod in his hand that could stun any fish in the vicinity.

He and his partner, Buck Rufenacht, were conducting a "baseline survey" of this treeless section of the Little Gunpowder Falls to find out exactly what was there - "which isn't much," Warnock pointed out.

"This is like the search for the missing trout," Warnock said, "but we don't expect to find any."

But Warnock, Rufenacht and other members of Trout Unlimited expect this to change soon. The organization has been working with the Maryland Forest Service to restore a forested swath along upper portions of the stream that have been denuded for centuries. ...

The bigger the forest, the greater its fall is felt

The biggest problem facing forests throughout the Chesapeake drainage may not be that they are being chopped down, but rather that they are being chopped up.

Large forest tracts are rapidly being fragmented as development sprawls across the landscape, according to a new report by the U.S. Forest Service's Northeast Area, which includes the entire Bay watershed.

While the role of streamside "riparian" forests in protecting water quality has been increasingly recognized in recent years, large tracts of forest also are important for the region's air and water quality, economy, and wildlife habitat, the report said. ...

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