Bay Journal

March 1997 - Volume 7 - Number 1

Re-evaluation to measure progress of Bay efforts

Ten years ago, the federal government and the leaders of the major Bay jurisdictions promised to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Chesapeake by two-fifths by the turn of the century.

Within a few weeks, the residents of the watershed will know whether they kept their word.

These are some of the first steps in something that is known as the "1997 Reevaluation" - a yearlong exercise to assess the Bay cleanup effort to date and its future direction.

While anything called the "1997 Reevaluation" may seem like something only a bureaucrat could love, this year's exercise will put before the public the greatest volume of information assembled so far about nutrient reduction efforts and their effect on the Bay and its resources. ...

Initiative will offer aid to rivers, 10 sites to receive ‘heritage’ status

President Clinton announced a new "American Heritage Rivers" initiative during his State of the Union address to identify 10 rivers nationwide this year that will get increased federal assistance in protecting their historic, cultural, recreational, economic and environmental value.

A federal task force will propose criteria for establishing American Heritage Rivers to the president by early May.

A nomination process will follow, in which local communities can nominate rivers for this status. The president will select 10 sites for the program's first year. ...

Battle over proposed ozone, particulate standards heats up

The battle over clean air - how clean and at what cost - has escalated into what may be the most contentious environmental issue of the year, as both sides take their cases to Congress, the president, and even to the public via television ads.

Appearing before a congressional hearing where some senators were also openly cool to the proposed changes, EPA Administrator Carol Browner strongly reaffirmed that the tougher standards reflect scientific research showing current allowable limits on smog-causing ozone and soot fail to protect public health. ...

1996 wettest year on record for flows to Chesapeake

It's official: Chesapeake rivers, bolstered by a series of floods that hit the watershed, last year carried more fresh water into the Bay than any year on record, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which has been monitoring flows since 1951.

The USGS reported that the rivers and streams feeding the Bay carried an average flow of 87.5 billion gallons of water a day last year - about 1.7 times higher than normal. The previous record was 85.1 billion gallons a day in 1972, the year Hurricane Agnes hit the region. ...

Funds for Bay-related projects reduced

Commissions that help manage water in the Bay's two largest tributaries - the Potomac and the Susquehanna - found their federal support eliminated in President Clinton's proposed 1998 budget.

Meanwhile, a variety of other federal agencies working on the Bay restoration effort found themselves with slightly tighter budgets in the proposed spending plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

But the hardest hit agencies with a close Bay connection appear to be the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. Their cuts could potentially affect the monitoring, education, research and other activities carried out by the state-federal bodies. ...

Book illustrates alternative models of sprawl

Growth may be a given for the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but the choices people make about how that growth takes place may ultimately determine the future health of the Bay.

To help in that decision-making process, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has produced a colorful 32-page book, "A Better Way to Grow," which illustrates how development affects resources, as well as alternative development patterns - and specific development projects - that can help minimize those impacts.

Through a project called "FuturePlan," the CBF developed model developments for real sites within the Chesapeake watershed. Plans were intended to illustrate different development concepts and to give people a sense of what it would be like to live in compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities. ...

Communities can become ‘Bay Partners’

The Bay Program has launched the "Bay Partner Community" program to recognize and reward local governments that make a strong commitment to the protection and restoration of streams, rivers and the Bay.

"Many of the 1,650 local governments in the Bay region have made a serious commitment to improving their local environment and protecting water quality," said W. Michael McCabe, EPA Region III administrator and chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program's Principals' Staff Committee. "This year, we want to recognize a number of communities that have helped the Bay, and to encourage others to enhance local environmental programs that are so critical to the long-term success of restoring the Bay and its resources," he said. ...

Maryland outlines goals for future environmental policies

Maryland environmental officials are developing a detailed set of environmental goals, such as creating 60,000 acres of new wetlands and the restoration of a fishable shad population, to help guide the state's environmental policies in the future.

The draft goals were unveiled in February and will be out for public comment until April 18.

The draft goals document outlines 42 draft environmental indicators to gauge such things as lead poisoning; areas exceeding air standards; the amount of forest buffers along streams; toxics releases; sensitive habitat protection; and the restoration of fish and wildlife populations. ...

Md. initiative would steer funds to developed areas, proposal aims to divert growth away from farms, open spaces

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening has launched a major legislative initiative to contain urban sprawl by steering state dollars toward existing developed areas while establishing new programs to protect farms and other open spaces.

Glendening's proposals would not restrict the ability of local governments to make land use decisions, but it would influence such decisions by targeting the millions of dollars the state spends each year for roads, schools, sewers and other infrastructure improvements toward cities and designated growth areas. ...

Rockfish quota increases in Bay, holds steady off coast

A multistate fishery management panel rejected an intense lobbying effort by recreational fishermen and voted to allow an increase in the amount of striped bass that could be caught in the Chesapeake this year.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Striped Bass Management Board in January voted to keep rockfish catches for most states at 1996 levels, while allowing Delaware and the Bay states to increase their catches by about 25 percent this year.

Fishery managers say the 10.5 million pound quota for the Bay jurisdictions reflects a rebounding rockfish population and is actually less than could be taken without risking the health of the stock. ...

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