Bay Journal

June 2002 - Volume 12 - Number 4

Forest buffer goal took root in watershed

After experts and stakeholders debated the contentious issue for months, the Chesapeake Executive Council disappeared behind closed doors six years ago with three pieces of paper.

Each set forth a policy for streamside forest buffers. The question was, what type of a goal should they set? One paper had a policy with no goal. Another called for a 2,000-mile goal. Another left a blank spot for the council to fill in its own goal.

Months of meetings revealed the issue was a hot topic. Research showed that planting streamside trees would reap a multitude of benefits, from nutrient reductions to habitat improvement. But many, especially landowner groups, were skeptical of any goal, which they felt was likely to lead to new regulations. ...

Bay Program seeks proposals to meet Chesapeake 2000 objectives

The Chesapeake Bay Program is seeking innovative, cost-effective proposals for projects that will help it meet specific objectives of the Chesapeake 2000 agreement. A Request for Initial Proposals ( RFIP) that lists specific topics for proposals is expected to be available May 29. It describes the process for submitting a proposal and the criteria for selection.

The RFIP may be obtained by calling the Bay Program Office at 1-800-YOUR-BAY, or on its web site, It will also be published in the Federal Register, and on the EPA Region III web site at Up to $2.2 million has been allocated by the EPA and Congressional appropriations for these projects. ...

Ellen Fraites Wagner Award given to Eastern Shore advocate

The Chesapeake Bay Trust has presented Ilia J. Fehrer with its 2002 Ellen Fraites Wagner Award, which honors individuals who have promoted public awareness and involvement in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Fehrer’s involvement with the Bay began in the 1970s when her tenacity and diplomacy with local landowners led to the Pocomoke’s designation as a Wild and Scenic River. She then initiated the Pocomoke’s water quality testing program.

Bill would fund upgrades at Bay’s wastewater plants

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced legislation in May that would provide funds to wastewater treatment plants that upgrade to “limit of technology” nutrient removal capabilities.

The bill, sponsored by 19 lawmakers from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, mirrors legislation introduced in the Senate last year that would provide $660 million over five years for wastewater treatment plant improvements.

The legislation would allow the federal government to make grants covering up to 55 percent of the cost for the installation of advanced technologies that would reduce nitrogen concentrations in wastewater treatment plant discharges to 3 milligrams per liter of water.

‘Bay Game’ is back

Maryland’s popular “Bay Game” is back for 2002, featuring new games, puzzles and mazes as well as new sites to see along the drive to the beach.

The “Bay Game” is designed for children to pass the time while riding to Eastern Shore beaches via U.S. 50 and MD 404. It is available free while supplies last from toll collectors at the Bay Bridge beginning Memorial Day.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the “Bay Game” helps to increase one’s awareness of how the surrounding area relates to the Chesapeake Bay.

Budget slashed at VA agency protecting shoreline

The Virginia agency responsible for protecting the Chesapeake Bay from excessive shoreline development is losing 40 percent of its budget next year, a cut that environmentalists fear will severely weaken the agency and its mission.

Gov. Mark R. Warner in April attempted to restore the $1 million reduction to the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department. But the Virginia House defeated the move in a 63-33 vote at the final session of the 2002 General Assembly.

The vote closely followed party lines. Just three Republicans crossed over and sided with the Democratic governor.

Delmarva to get rural conservation corridor

A development-free zone, which will run through the heart of the Delmarva Peninsula from Delaware into Virginia, will be created under the new Farm Bill.

The pilot program, sought by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD, seeks to protect a winding corridor of land that bypasses urban areas and preserves agricultural lands, wildlife habitat and the Delmarva’s rural landscape.

The Farm Bill established the framework for the program, but the exact details — and the boundaries — of the corridor remain unclear. The bill does not seek specific money for the corridor, but directs the secretary of agriculture to give priority to conservation efforts within the area.

New program will help landowners practice sustainable forestry

Forest landowners in the Bay watershed should benefit from a new five-year, $100 million Farm Bill program that will increase assistance to private non-industrial forest landowners for adopting sustainable management practices.

The new Forest Land Enhancement Program will make grants to state forestry agencies to provide financial, technical, educational and other assistance to help private landowners manage their forest land.

Al Todd, U.S. Forest Service liaison with the Bay Program, said the program will help with a variety of tree planting, stream buffer and forest planning efforts in the watershed.

Farm Bill’s conservation measures likely to boost Bay cleanup efforts

Officials from the Bay region are planning to meet soon with federal agricultural leaders as part of a campaign to steer as much support as possible from the new Farm Bill into Chesapeake restoration efforts.

The Farm Bill, signed May 13 by President Bush, contains an 80 percent increase in conservation funding nationwide.

Although it is less of an increase than what was earlier hoped for, the funds would provide added support for nutrient control programs in the watershed, wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland restoration and farmland preservation.

MD, conservation groups seek money to study mycobacteriosis

Maryland officials and a group of conservationists plan to seek additional funding to bolster research on mycobacteriosis, a potentially lethal disease which may afflict half or more of the striped bass in the Chesapeake.

Participants at a recent meeting between senior Department of Natural Resources officials and representatives from three conservation groups agreed to initially seek support for stepped-up research from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a multistate organization that manages migratory fish stocks.

Sanctuary, wetlands, public facilities sought to compensate for oil spill

State and federal officials are seeking a new oyster reef sanctuary, the creation of additional wetlands, new public access facilities and other improvements as compensation for an oil spill on the Patuxent River in April 2000.

The officials in May unveiled a draft restoration plan for public comment.

The plan is a response to the April 7, 2000, spill which resulted when a pipeline owned by Pepco and operated by ST Services ruptured, spilling more than 126,000 gallons of oil at Pepco’s Chalk Point Generating Facility near Benedict, MD.

Models help scientists understand fish-eat-fish scenarios

Sitting at his desk, Derek Orner can spawn vast populations of striped bass in the Chesapeake. Then, with a few movements of a computer mouse and a few clicks on his keyboard, he can try to wipe them out.

He can do that lots of ways. Orner can simply direct the computer to overharvest the rockfish.

Or, he can do it indirectly. He can overharvest menhaden — a key food for adult striped bass — and starve the rockfish. Or, he can massively ratchet down on algae, and starve both menhaden and striped bass. Or, he can boost populations of bluefish and weakfish, and they can chow down on menhaden.

VA Seafood Council postpones plans for ariakensis project

The hopes of a seafood industry trade group to place 1 million chemically sterilized foreign oysters in the Chesapeake this summer has been delayed, probably until next year, in the wake of widespread criticism.

The Virginia Seafood Council asked the Virginia Marine Resource Commission — which would have to approve the proposal — to postpone a planned June 18 public hearing after scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science told the group that they would recommend rejecting the the plan unless it was altered.

It’s not too late to sign up for Patuxent, James, Potomac sojourns

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has extended the registration for its weeklong paddling Sojourns on the Potomac, James and Patuxent rivers. Novice and experienced paddlers can take part in one to seven days of on-the-river fun and adventure.

Throughout the week, Sojourners build camaraderie through daily paddles and programs and share new experiences with others on the trip. Each day, paddlers cover about 10 miles of the river, stopping to meet with local communities and their elected officials along the way.

Fast food diet bad for Bay’s tiniest animals / New criteria would improve quality of algae available in Chesapeake’s food web

Tiny animals looking for a healthy meal in the Bay are often finding that the Chesapeake’s menu is serving the microscopic equivalent of potato chips.

A new analysis — which may soon be the basis for further nutrient reductions — contends that much of the algae being produced in the Chesapeake is often dominated by a few bloom-forming species that provide a poor source of nutrition for the Bay’s food web.

Instead of producing more fish food, the excessive algae populations in today’s Bay actually suppress populations of microscopic animals called mesozooplankton that form a critical link in the complex food chain that ultimately leads to fish.

Report calls restored riparian areas essential to waterways

Restoring the riparian areas adjacent to streams and other waterways should be a national goal if the country is to restore the health of its waterways and protect biological diversity, according to a new scientific report.

The report by the National Research Council, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, said that riparian areas perform many of the same functions of wetlands, but receive far less protection.

In fact, the majority of riparian areas in the United States have been converted to other uses or are severely degraded, often resulting in the impairment of nearby lakes and streams, according to the report, “Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management.”

Forest Buffer Forums

The Bay Program Forestry Workgroup, in cooperation with state Stream ReLeaf committees, has scheduled public forums in each state to get feedback on forest buffer issues and hear opinions about new goals.

All the forums are scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to noon, but exact locations have not been set. For information, contact Sally Claggett of the U.S. Forest Service at 1-800-968-7229, x706 or a state contact listed below. More meetings may be scheduled.

  • Harrisburg, PA, June 6. Contact Gene Odato, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, 717-787-6460, or e-mail
  • Annapolis, MD, June 24
  • Cumberland, MD, June 26
  • Annapolis, MD, July 15. Contact Anne Hairston-Strang, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 410-260-8509, or e-mail
  • Virginia, June 27. Contact Michael Foreman, Virginia Department of Forestry, 434-977-6555, or e-mail

Another forum is anticipated later in the summer in the Washington, D.C. area, which will focus on forest buffer issues in urban settings.

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