Bay Journal

July-August 1999 - Volume 9 - Number 5

Tangier watermen see Bay in a new light

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky…Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.”

Genesis 1:20, 24

It’s midafternoon on Tangier Island – time for Rudy Shores to take a break from his arduous labors. Like most of the men on Tangier, Shores has been up since 2 a.m., harvesting crabs from the Bay’s troubled waters. Now, after 13 hours, he can rest. But his day’s not over. In a little while, after the blazing summer sun has moved a little closer to the horizon and the temperature has dropped a few degrees, he’ll go out on his boat for another two hours or so. ...

Return of shad a tribute to stocking, passages

Biologists on Maryland’s Patuxent River this spring saw something that anglers on the waterway have been looking for since the 1960s: A spawning run of American shad.

The fish, which is prized for its fighting ability and once supported the Bay’s most valuable commercial fishery, had vanished from the Patuxent and many other Chesapeake tributaries in recent decades.

“There had not been any documented runs of American shad there for 30 years,” said Steve Minkkinen, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It’s really something to go out on the river and suddenly see a run of fish where there was none.” ...

DE sets vague poultry manure plan; commission will write, enforce rules

The farmers called on by Delaware Gov. Thomas Carper to come up with a plan to reduce harmful manure runoff into the state’s waterways pulled off an impressive trick: They satisfied both federal environmental officials and poultry farmers.

They did it by keeping the standards for fertilizer control vague, in large part leaving it up to a commission that would be established to write and enforce more specific rules.

The EPA’s regional director said he can accept the bill, and the chicken industry, which was rocked last year when Maryland enacted a far stricter set of regulations, is happy with it, too. ...

VIMS seeks stranding data on sea turtles

The season for sea turtles in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is here again, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science researchers urge anyone who finds a stranded sea turtle to call 804-684-7313.

VIMS scientists have been collecting data on sea turtles in Virginia waters for 19 years and respond to any stranded sea turtle, alive or dead, found north of the James River.<.p> “We need your help,” said Soraya Moein-Bartol of VIMS. “We can’t continue collecting this valuable data without help from our local residents, visitors and fishermen. All information is important to us and helps us to learn more about these marine animals.” ...

Gardeners learning how to bug pests without insecticides

A couple of years ago, Mary Ann Sparks joined the Bug Club.

She learned how to identify pesky insects that could threaten her backyard garden, as well as those which pose no threat — and may even be beneficial — to her plants.

Sparks now “scouts” her Prince William County garden for egg masses and other warning signals of a future outbreak. But she rarely bothers to pull out the insecticide unless the threat looks particularly severe. “I scout, but I don’t do much about it,” she said. ...

Community planning for a rainy day helps to offset disasters’ impacts

Destructive hurricanes may not seem to have much in common with sustainable development. But federal officials say that communities that work to protect flood plains, wetlands and other natural buffers can better withstand floods and other natural disasters.

So with the approach of what forecasters say could be a more active than normal hurricane season, officials are trying to get the word out that communities everywhere should take action to reduce the impact of nature’s wrath.

Several years ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency — usually best known for its assistance to areas after a disaster strikes — launched “Project Impact.” ...

May flows to Chesapeake set record low as drought continues

May river flows into the Chesapeake hit an all-time low for the month, and weather forecasters said there was no long-term relief in sight for a drought that has contributed to below-normal freshwater flows to the Bay for 10 straight months.

The dry conditions have helped to clear the Bay’s waters, but ushered in an army of jellyfish as well.

Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say drought conditions could continue in the region for the rest of the summer and possibly into the fall. If there is a significant rain, they said it could be dramatic — taking the form of a hurricane-related deluge. ...

Battle over reservoir may move to NY after VA officials protest

Opponents of a long-planned reservoir for Newport News, which would flood hundreds of acres of wetlands and forests in the relatively undeveloped Pamunkey River watershed, thought they had won their fight in June.

But it turns out the battle will rage on.

Col. Allan B. Carroll, Norfolk District engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, issued a preliminary decision June 4 saying he would deny a permit for the project. Citing a new study which indicated Newport News Waterworks had overestimated future water demand, Carroll questioned the need for the reservoir which would flood more than 400 acres of wetlands. ...

‘Growing Greener’ plan stalled in PA; bond issue touted

A plan to make Pennsylvania “grow greener” by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into land acquisition, streambank reforestation and other programs has stalled in the legislature, at least until the fall.

Gov. Tom Ridge had proposed a five-year plan, dubbed “Growing Greener,” to beef-up funding for land preservation, watershed restoration, state park maintenance and other environmental programs, primarily by reducing expenditures in other projects, such as recycling and hazardous site cleanup. ...

VA governor may seek wetlands law

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is weighing an executive order aimed at stemming ongoing efforts to drain thousands of acres of wetlands in the state’s southeastern corner.

A federal judge last year threw out a regulation, known as the “Tulloch Rule,” which sought to prevent wetland ditching and draining. Since then, the federal government estimates that tens of thousands of wetland acres nationwide have been drained.

In Virginia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District has estimated that more than 2,100 acres in Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach are being drained under the loophole. Draining of an additional 5,700 acres is “planned or likely,” according to the Corps. ...

Status of Chemical Contaminant Effects on Living Resources in the Chesapeake Bay’s Tidal Rivers

Scientists and managers carried out a multiple step effort to characterize the status of chemical contaminant effects on living resources — fish, shellfish, crabs, worms, grasses, etc. — inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay’s tidal rivers. Here are the segment-by-segment results for the tidal portions of the Bay’s Rivers. Segments are listed north to south and east to west.

Regions of Concern

  • Patapsco River/Baltimore Harbor, MD
  • Anacostia River, DC
  • Elizabeth River, VA

Areas of Emphasis ...

Report offers detailed view of toxics in Bay’s rivers

The Chesapeake Bay region — on paper — is looking a lot more toxic these days.

That doesn’t mean that the Bay is any more contaminated. But, after years of work, scientists have pieced together a more comprehensive picture of where potential toxics problems may lurk in the Chesapeake’s tidal tributaries.

The bad news is that they found 10 new areas where chemical contaminants have a “significant potential” to affect aquatic organisms. The good news is that eight areas got a clean bill of health. ...

Born again: Churches breathing new life into environmentalism

Tangier Island is, in many ways, unlike any other community in the country. Paul Newman and Kevin Costner learned this the hard way. Last year, the people of Tangier surprised these two megastars — and millions of other Americans — by refusing to allow a PG-13 film to be shot on the island. The decision meant forgoing lots of revenues for this economically stressed population. But because the film conveyed “immoral” messages, the people of Tangier turned the producers down.

In at least one respect, however, Tangier is right in step with the rest of America. Indeed, its faith-based environmental stewardship initiative is part of a growing national trend that could dramatically transform the conservation movement in the 21st century. ...

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