Bay Journal

March 1998 - Volume 8 - Number 1

Virginia acts to protect SAV beds

Underwater grasses have been given a safe haven in Virginia's part of Chincoteague Bay.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission in January agreed to set aside 14 square miles of underwater grass beds on its side of the state line as a sanctuary from commercial clam dredging.

Though not in the Chesapeake, it was the first time either Bay state had set aside an area specifically to protect grasses, which are increasingly being recognized as some of the most important aquatics in the world. ...

Watershed Grants Program targets local efforts

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program, has announced a new grants program for 1998 that is designed to deliver funds directly to watershed-based citizen organizations and local governments for environmental restoration and protection projects.

The new, Small Watershed Grants Program will award grants ranging from $2,000 to $40,000. Applicants may apply for funding for a wide range of projects from protecting fish habitat to restoring forest buffers to creating low-impact recreation sites. ...

Burkholder, Fowler, Hargis honored for work regarding Bay

JoAnn Burkholder, a co-discoverer and preeminent authority on Pfiesteria piscicida, was named the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 1997 Conservationist of the Year.

Burkholder, an associate professor of aquatic botany and marine science at North Carolina State University, was recognized for her invaluable efforts to help watermen, scientists, state and federal authorities, and environmental groups better understand and respond to the pfiesteria threat in the Chesapeake Bay.

"Dr. Burkholder is the first individual from outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed to receive the award, which demonstrates how the impact of her work transcends the North Carolina region," said Michael Hirshfield, CBF's vice president for resource protection. "Quite simply, if it were not for Dr. Burkholder, Maryland would not be responding to the pfiesteria problem as effectively today as it is." ...

Scientists worldwide unite to sound alarm about oceans

Overfishing, pollution and coastal development are causing unprecedented damage to oceans, scientists from around the world said in urging citizens and lawmakers to act.

"The sea is in real trouble, much more trouble than we previously thought," said Elliot Norse, a marine ecologist who founded the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Redmond, WA.

"We have overfished the seas systematically everywhere we have gone," he said. "We must act now, not 20 years from now or 10 years from now, if we are to prevent further degradation of the marine environment." ...

Gilmore pledges funds for Bay, stronger action against polluters

Calling the Chesapeake Bay "one of our most precious natural resources," Virginia Gov. James Gilmore pledged support for a $63 million package to control nutrient pollution in his first State of the Commonwealth Address.

"For generations, we neglected proper care and attention to the Bay," Gilmore said in his address. "Over the past decade, Virginia and all states bordering the Bay and its tributaries have made monumental commitments to restore it to a healthy body of water. Generations of neglect require at least a generation of critical care to the Chesapeake Bay. ...

National standards sought for manure management

The huge amount of animal waste generated on the nation's farms - 5 tons for each person in the country - poses a major threat to the environment and requires federal action, according to a U.S. Senate study.

The report warns that as increasing numbers of animals are concentrated at fewer farms across the country, some regions accumulate so much excess manure that it is not safely stored or disposed of. The report, written by the Democratic staff of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, suggested that national standards are needed to ensure nationwide protection for waterways. ...

Glendening seeks phosphorus-based nutrient plans by 2000

Reacting to last year's outbreak of fish-killing pfiesteria on the Eastern Shore, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening wants all farmers to write phosphorus-based nutrient management plans by 2000 and implement them by 2002.

In a legislative package sent to the General Assembly in January, the governor also called for accelerating wastewater treatment plant upgrades on the Eastern Shore, imposing new requirements for nutrient applications on open land such as golf courses, and requiring certification for lawn-care professionals. ...

Proposed Clinton budget would cut $700,000 from Bay Program

The Bay Program would get a $700,000 funding cut next year under the Clinton Administration's proposed budget, although support for state efforts to control water pollution would be increased through other programs.

The proposed EPA budget includes $18.9 million for the Bay Program in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That would be a reduction from this year's $19.6 million, and represents a continued decline from a peak of almost $21 million in 1992.

Historically, about half of the money goes to the states to implement Bay-related programs, while about a third is awarded on a competitive basis to universities, local governments and nonprofit organizations to support research, pollution prevention programs, volunteer citizen monitoring, toxics reductions and other activities. The remainder supports core activities such as water quality monitoring, modeling and the operation of the Bay Program Office in Annapolis. ...

Low-emission vehicles to be sold in region next year

Automakers have agreed to begin selling new "low emission vehicles" beginning next year, a move that should help keep the lid on auto exhaust, which contributes to the Chesapeake Bay's pollution problems.

The new low emission vehicles - or LEVs - will reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 70 percent and emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are of particular concern for the Bay, by 50 percent. While that sounds substantial, the program will do little more than hold the line on NOx emissions, according to EPA figures. In 2007, the EPA estimates that the new vehicles will reduce vehicle NOx emissions by only 500 tons a day from the roughly 15,000 tons that would otherwise be spewed from tailpipes nationally, according to EPA figures. That's a reduction of less than 4 percent. ...

Wetlands & The Bay

There are more than 1.5 million acres of wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, or about 4 percent of the 64,000-square-mile basin.

Most of the wetlands are nontidal, freshwater wetlands; only 200,000 acres are estuarine wetlands.

About 40 percent of the wetlands are in Virginia, with another 27 percent in Maryland. New York and Pennsylvania account for another 11 and 14 percent of the watershed's wetlands, respectively. Delaware and West Virginia combined account for 7 percent of the watershed's wetlands. ...

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