Bay Journal

July-August 1997 - Volume 7 - Number 5

Suits seek cleanup plans for waterways

Pennsylvania's waterways are likely to become more polluted soon-at least on paper. And Pennsylvania is not unique; the other Bay states may soon be in the same boat.

To resolve a citizen lawsuit, Pennsylvania recently signed an agreement with the EPA that will require it to monitor all its unassessed rivers, lakes and streams, and to do something it was legally required to do for the last two decades-write cleanup plans for polluted waters. Because about half of the state's waters have either never been monitored or not been examined in a long time, many expect the process to reveal new "impaired" waterways. ...

Water, water everywhere and not a beach to swim in; and how about a little oyster gardening?

Water, water everywhere and not a beach to swim in

Anne Arundel County will open a new beach park in a few years featuring one of the state's longest stretches of public access to the Chesapeake Bay.

But don't plan on swimming or boating at the Beverly-Triton Beach Park.

A citizens committee recommended against both activities, saying too many visitors could disrupt the fragile ecosystem.

"It's a beautiful place, and it ought to be used, but I'm concerned about what for," said Chris Kline, a beach neighbor. Half-kidding, she added: "If it were for everyone here, and no one else knew about it, it would be great!" ...

Eagles fledge at Patuxent refuge

Two young bald eagles are starting to leave their nest site to fly free at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md., said refuge biologist Holliday Obrecht.

Unlike eaglets fledged in earlier years at the refuge, this pair has been banded.

The numbered, aluminum bands will help biologists track bird movements and obtain other information about them. Pesticide research done at the refuge in the '60s linked pesticides like DDT to the decline of eagle populations nationwide. The resulting ban of the use of these chemicals is thought to be largely responsible for the eagle's, as well as a host of other birds', recovery. ...

Final call for Bay-related web sites

The Bay Journal plans to publish a directory of Bay-related sites on the World Wide Web in an upcoming issue. The deadline for submissions is July 31.

The directory will provide an opportunity for local, state and federal government agencies; colleges and research institutions; and citizen, watershed and environmental organizations to publicize their web site and what information they have to offer.

To be included, here is the information we need:

  • Name of the organization, agency or institution
  • A 25-50 word description of the organization, agency or institution and its Bay-related activities.
  • A 50-75 word description of the type of information that is available at the web site.
  • The web site address
  • The phone number and e-mail address of the person responsible for maintaining the web site.


Glendening announces wetlands initiative

Governor Parris N. Glendening recently call for a cooperative and voluntary effort by all levels of government, businesses, industries, environmental and community groups, and individuals to restore 60,000 acres of Maryland's tidal and nontidal wetlands that have been lost since the 1940s.

He said state agencies will lead the effort by pledging state-owned property to the endeavor, incorporating specifications in bid documents for construction projects, or requiring wetland creation and restoration whenever appropriate sites are identified during project design. The state's Department of the Environment has already added to the wetland base by offering wetland creation projects as offsets to a portion of assessed penalties in enforcement settlements. ...

Signs of Chesapeake cropping up along major highways

Motorists driving on Interstate 68 in the mountains of western Maryland are getting a lesson in geography and the environment. So are those along Interstate 95 near the Maryland-Delaware border.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission last month unveiled the new signs marking the boundary of the Bay's watershed.

"Each one is designed to be a little bit different, depicting the bounties that the local region has to offer," said Ann Swanson, executive director of the commission.

The western Maryland sign, for example, features native brook trout, lively river rafters and a black bear. The signs were paid for with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland State Highway Administration. ...

Corps grants permit to develop Chapman’s Landing

A company that wants to build a new town on 2,250 acres of forest near the Potomac River in Maryland's Charles County has cleared the last major regulatory hurdle.

The Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit June 26 allowing the developer to disturb a small area of wetlands so the company can proceed with plans for a community that would have up to 12,000 residents and millions of square feet of commercial space.

Environmentalists, who have fought a long battle against the project, criticized the corps and vowed the battle is not over yet. ...

Disk set will give students access to Bay web site

Classrooms will no longer need Internet access to explore information on the Chesapeake BIOS web site.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has created a set of three disks with Netscape software that will allow users to view the web site's information simply by clicking on highlighted text (or links) which jump to the documents referenced.

These free, IBM-compatible disks are available to classrooms. Their content applies to a range of ages.

The Alliance and its volunteers developed the Chesapeake BIOS (Basinwide Information On-line Service) in 1994 to provide citizens with Internet access to graphic-rich, current information on the Bay and its rivers. ...

Virginia DEQ reorganization raises turmoil, controversy

Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality was embroiled in turmoil last month after the Allen administration announced a reorganization that included the layoffs of 30 senior officials, including all major division directors.

Later, the agency's number two official quit after a state audit showed he authorized $7,845 in payments, in violation of state policy, to a department official who quit amid controversy earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the EPA has decided to withhold more than $1 million in grants to the department because it fears the recent turmoil will further delay already overdue reports about the state's permit program. ...

New Air Standards


  • The recommended standard will be updated from 0.12 parts per million of ozone measured over one hour to 0.08 parts per million measured over 8 hours.

  • The new standard will extend new health protections to 35 million people, bringing to 113 million the number of Americans protected by the air quality standard for ozone.

  • For children, the new standard will reduce respiratory problems, such as asthma attacks. It will result in 1 million fewer incidences of decreased lung function in children each year.


New air rules expected to reduce Bay nutrients

A pair of recent actions increased the likelihood that Bay restoration efforts in the next decade will be bolstered by new attempts to reign in the large amount of nitrogen that bombards the Chesapeake and its watershed from air pollution, much of which originates from outside its 64,000 square-mile drainage basin.

President Clinton, in June, endorsed most of an EPA proposal to tighten clean air standards for ground-level ozone, a key ingredient of summertime smog, and for tiny bits of soot known as fine particulates. ...

Mattaponis told reservoir won’t violate treaties

Two 17th century treaties don't appear to give the Mattaponi Indians special protection against a proposed reservoir near their reservation, the Virginia attorney general's office said June 3.

"The decision was a disappointment, but the tribe hasn't given up," said Carl Custalow, the tribe's assistant chief. "We will continue to fight this reservoir."

The tribe, along with state and local environmental groups, are battling plans by the Newport News Waterworks to create a 1,527-acre reservoir in the Mattaponi River watershed. The 6-mile reservoir would be built on Cohoke Creek, flooding 524 acres of wetlands, and would run diagonally across King William County. ...

Susquehanna marks record number of American shad

A record number of spawning American shad returned to the Susquehanna this year-the strongest sign yet that the two-decade restoration effort on the river is beginning to pay off.

The 103,945 fish that returned to the Conowingo Dam near the river's mouth was an increase of almost 70 percent above the 61,550 counted in 1995, the previous best year.

The river was once the largest East Coast spawning ground for the fish, offering hundreds of miles of habitat, but it has been shut off for most of this century by a series of hydroelectric dams. ...

Pocomoke fish lesions decreasing, but still baffling

Maryland biologists remain mystified over the cause of lesions in fish caught on the Eastern Shore's Pocomoke River and plan to assemble a team of experts from state and federal agencies and universities to review their findings.

The state began intensive water quality monitoring at 18 sites in the Pocomoke River and Sound in June, and the sampling is expected to continue on at least a monthly basis through the summer.

"We're taking this very seriously," said Robert Magnien, a scientist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources who is coordinating the investigation. "We want to get to the bottom of it." ...

Chickahominy a study of landscape and land use

The Jolly Pond Swamp looks like something that should be found in the Carolinas or thereabouts, with deep, dark water filled with tall cypress trees.

Yet it and other cypress swamps on the Chickahominy-north of the James River-have been a marvel to visitors for decades. "The cypress here protrudes its curious roots, and the funereal moss trails from the trees," journalist B.W. Bagby wrote in a 1872 coffee-table book "Picturesque America." "TheChickahominy," Bagby stated, "cannot fail to attract the artist and naturalist." ...

Wade In shows clear results in Bay cleanup effort

The Patuxent River is getting cleaner.

That conclusion doesn't come from scientists, state-of-the-art computer models or sophisticated, water quality monitoring programs.

It comes from Bernie Fowler's white sneakers.

On June 8, the former Maryland state senator waded into the Patuxent River-one of Maryland's major tributaries to the Chesapeake-and was able to see his feet until the water was 44 1/2 inches deep. That was the clearest the river has been since Fowler began conducting his annual Wade In in 1988 to draw attention to the river's pollution problems. ...

Atlantic sturgeon considered for endangered status

The Atlantic sturgeon, the largest and longest-lived fish native to the Chesapeake Bay, may be headed to the federal endangered species list.

A Colorado-based environmental group has filed petitions with two federal agencies saying that the fish is "seriously imperiled" and deserves to be protected as either a threatened or endangered species.

"I think this is a fish they might be able to save," said Jasper Carlton, director of the Biodiversity Legal Foundation based in Boulder, Colo. ...

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