Bay Journal

January 2000 - Volume 9 - Number 10

Council seeks public comment on 2000 Bay pact

The Bay states want to finish by the end of the next decade the cleanup job they started a dozen years ago.

In a draft new Bay agreement, officials from the Bay jurisdictions envision a clean Bay by the year 2010 that is filled with 10 times as many oysters, a healthier blue crab population, more grass beds and is buffered by least 25,000 additional acres of wetlands.

The agreement, expected to be finalized in June, was released for public comment at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting in December. ...

Burning issue: Abilitly to creat fire on demand wasn’t always easy

The U.S. Forest Service partners of the Chesapeake Bay Program organized an excellent conference last November on the fragmentation of the basin’s woodlands. The severing of our forests into ever smaller, often disconnected, parcels is a serious concern as it puts people in conflict with forests and jeopardizes the habitat for scores of woodland species that need the isolation of sizeable woodland tracts. Fragmentation also divides woodland ownership into small units that make it uneconomical to harvest for timber. ...

Businesses, professor, activist honored for efforts to save Bay

Three individuals and several businesses were recently honored for their efforts to help restore the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Executive Council announced the winners of its 1999 Businesses for the Bay Excellence Awards, which honor outstanding and significant work in preventing pollution. Criteria for the awards include: environmental and social significance; technical value and transferability to other sectors; degree of commitment; and originality and innovation. The winners are:

  • Parker’s Exxon – Outstanding Achievement for Small Business: Winner of the 1998 Award, this Washington, D.C. service station has introduced even more measures to reduce its releases to the Bay. It has created an area designated solely for recycling and installed a shelter for used batteries to eliminate the possibility of contaminating stormwater runoff. It recycles the oily water collected in it automotive bays


Total Maximum Daily Loads

Portions of the hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams in the Bay watershed fail to meet their water quality standards. Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to write detailed cleanup plans, known as TMDLs, for each of those impaired waterways. If they fail to do so, the EPA must do it.

In addition, the Bay, itself, was recently listed as impaired, and will need an enforceable TMDL unless it is “cleaned up” before 2011. The Bay is unlikely to meet existing water quality standards in either Virginia or Maryland that call for water quality conditions which probably surpass those that existed before the region was even settled. As a result, the Bay states will probably need to set new standards before the Bay can be removed from the list. ...

Criteria being developed to determine what is a ‘clean Bay’

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a blade of underwater grass stuck 3 feet deep in a salty portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

Like a seedling trying to survive in the middle of a forest, you would want as much sunlight as possible to keep from withering away. But in your case, algae and sediment floating overhead keep hogging the light.

To survive, years of research suggest, you would want the water to be clear enough for at least 15 percent of the sunlight that strikes the surface to reach you. ...

Menhaden decline could be affecting some birds, scientist says

The number of migrating loons stopping along Maryland’s Choptank River to eat has dropped sharply in the past 10 years.

Last fall, Paul Spitzer, a visiting scientist at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Maryland, said he observed only about 300 loons. That was more than the roughly 200 counted in 1998, but three to four times below the number seen a decade ago.

“It was a little better than last year,” Spitzer said. “But not much. Also, they didn’t linger that much. It was clear there wasn’t the food there to hold the birds in this part of the Bay for an extended period.” ...

Ridge signs expanded version of ‘Growing Greener’ package

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has signed a five-year, $646 million package that will boost state spending for environmental protection, farmland preservation and recreation.

The “Growing Greener” plan approved by the General Assembly in December after nearly a year of debate was substantially broader than Ridge’s original proposal, which would have simply redistributed $425 million in existing funds.

But Ridge had declared that passing “Growing Greener” before the General Assembly ended its session was his highest legislative priority for the fall. He signed the compromise bill during a Dec. 15 ceremony on a Chester County hill overlooking a 60-acre undeveloped tract that will be protected under the program’s first grant. ...

Clinton names EPA regional administrator for Mid-Atlantic

President Clinton has appointed Bradley M. Campbell to succeed W. Michael McCabe as regional administrator for the EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. McCabe was promoted to deputy administrator of the EPA, the agency’s number two job.

“Bradley Campbell is a native of Philadelphia and an extremely experienced and qualified environmental manager,” said EPA Administrator Carol Browner. “He brings to this important job a real commitment to the continued protection of public health and the environment for the people of the mid-Atlantic region and their communities.” ...

Virginia lawmakers prepare bill to protect nontidal wetlands

Virginia’s 1.3 million acres of nontidal wetlands would be protected under legislation expected to be introduced by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers in the 2000 General Assembly session.

The bill is a response to a loophole created by a 1997 federal appeals court ruling last year that allowed developers to drain, but not fill, nontidal wetlands without permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Since the appeals court threw out a federal regulation known as the “Tulloch Rule,” draining has begun on more than 2,200 acres in southeastern Virginia, according to the Corps. Draining of another 6,500 acres is “planned or likely” the Corps said. ...

Executive Council unveils program to preserve wetlands

The Chesapeake Executive Council has endorsed a three-pronged program to preserve — and increase — wetlands in the watershed. It calls for restoring 25,000 acres of wetlands in the next decade, stemming losses through regulatory programs and helping communities permanently preserve wetlands and nearby areas.

The plan stems from a 1997 commitment by the Council to develop strategies to achieve a “net-gain” not only in wetland acreage, but also “function” — such as providing habitat or controlling runoff. ...

After review, Bay Program moves to improve water quality model

The multimillion dollar computer model used by the Bay Program to determine how pollution — and cleanup efforts — will affect the Chesapeake is flawed and should not be used in decision making, a team of outside academics has concluded.

In a strongly worded report, the academic review team said that the Bay Program’s water quality model fails to accurately simulate key physical and biological functions in the Chesapeake, raising doubts about any conclusions drawn from the model.

“It is the opinion of this team that the Water Quality Model does not currently provide information suitable for major management decisions and that use of the model for such purposes should be suspended,” the review team said in a report presented in December to the Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). ...

Feathered friend or fish-eating foe?

Wildlife biologists are keeping a watchful eye on some recent Bay arrivals to see whether they turn out to bad neighbors — or a nice addition to the neighborhood.

The recent arrival is the double-crested cormorant, a fish-eating bird not found in the Bay until 1989, when it began nesting in Virginia. It began breeding in Maryland in 1991.

Since then, its numbers have boomed. About 1,000 pairs of the fish eaters were nesting in Maryland last summer, mostly in three large colonies. Virginia officials believe they had a similar number on the Bay and its tributaries. ...

How does the Chesapeake 2000 agreement measure up? (analysis)

Since it included a 40 percent nutrient reduction by 2000 goal in its 1987 Bay Agreement, setting quantifiable measures has become a hallmark of the Bay Program.

Subsequent commitments and directives usually pledge to do certain things by certain times. The goals aren’t always met, but they usually serve to drive things forward.

“I get to work in a lot of forums across the country,” said EPA Administrator Carol Browner, “but the reason this one has been as successful as it has been is because we have been willing to set real numeric goals; that we have been willing to say to the public, ‘Here’s where we’re headed, hold us accountable; here is a number that can be measured.’” ...

Chesapeake 2000 Draft Agreement

Request for Public Comment Preamble

We are releasing this draft document to solicit your comments. Chesapeake 2000 was developed by the Chesapeake Bay Program partners with the assistance of thousands of citizens, scientists and policy makers from throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. It contains commitments that are far reaching and that address issues of the waters and living resources of the Bay and its rivers, and the land and air that surround them. Chesapeake 2000 will take us well into the next decade and beyond. ...

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