Bay Journal

December 2003 - Volume 13 - Number 9

Native oyster projects showing signs of promise, but is it enough?

Like a gliding fish, Ken Paynter’s underwater camera coasted above a largely abandoned oyster bar; it looked like mounds of silt piled on the Bay’s bottom with only an occasional oyster being seen.

“Except for the bars that are worked really hard, this is what the Bay looks like,” said Paynter, a University of Maryland oyster scientist.

But in another video clip, the camera swept over a healthy oyster bed—one that was built as part of a recent 10-acre restoration project near the mouth of the Patuxent River, and “seeded” with young, hatchery-reared oysters. ...

Nature preserve, trail 2 parks join Bay Gateways Network

Four sites have joined the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network—Patapsco Valley State Park, the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail and Parkers Creek Watershed Nature Preserve in Maryland and Great Bridge Lock Park in Virginia.

The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network is a partnership system of 127 refuges, historic ports, museums and trails around the Bay watershed. Each tells a part of the multi-faceted Chesapeake story. Together, they provide a way to experience and understand the Bay as a whole. The new sites are: ...

Draft clean water changes remove protection for many waterways

The Bush administration has drafted a new Clean Water Act rule that environmentalists say would dramatically scale back federal protection for wetlands and streams.

The draft rule, leaked to the Los Angeles Times in November, would remove Clean Water Act protections for streams that carried water for less than six months of the year and any adjacent wetlands.

Also, streams that pass through ditches, culverts or other manmade connections—common practices in many urban and agricultural areas —would be exempted from federal protection. ...

15 honored for efforts to reduce, eliminate pollution at facilities

Cleaning up the Chesapeake is a serious business and the 15 recipients of the 2003 Businesses for the Bay Achievement Awards have shown that they are up to the task.

Businesses for the Bay is a voluntary program that assists member business, government facilities and other organizations in preventing pollution by reducing or eliminating waste at its source. Some members have had outstanding or significant success with these efforts. The 2003 winners are:

Outstanding Achievement Awards ...

Executive Council expected to set 10,000-mile forest buffer goal

The Chesapeake Executive Council appears likely to adopt a goal of planting 10,000 miles of streamside forest buffers when it meets Dec. 9.

That would require planting the buffers, which help to protect water quality and improve stream habitat, at a much faster rate than has taken place since the original streamside buffer goal was set in 1996.

But the goal is significantly less than the 26,000 miles that had been recommended by some of the Bay Program’s own subcommittees.

As a compromise, the Bay Program’s Principals Staff Committee—senior agency officials who offer advice to the Executive Council—agreed in November to recommend a commitment that calls for a near-term goal of 10,000 miles by 2010, with a long-term objective of 26,000 miles by an unspecified date. ...

Report on blue crab recovery deems stocks at ‘critically low levels’

The Bay’s blue crab stock “remains at critically low levels” and “warrants continued concern and close scrutiny,” cautions a new report summarizing the condition of the Chesapeake’s most valuable commercial fishery.

The report, from the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s Blue Crab Technical Work Group, offers a sobering look at the species, warning that although the population decline has apparently been halted, fishing pressure remains high and the size of the stock still has not reached the target level set three years ago. ...

Energy bill could boost ethanol production in Bay states

As the Congress debated the controversial energy bill last month, some Maryland farmers probably had barley on their minds.

But, not the kind used to make beer.

Some Maryland farmers hope to turn a rare variety of barley into ethanol to help slake the thirst of big cities that may soon have to comply with an ambitious new ethanol “mandate”—and help to clean up the Bay at the same time.

The “ethanol mandate” and other incentives for ethanol production included in the Energy Bill proposed by Republican leaders of the House and Senate could breathe life into local efforts to blend ethanol from small grains like barley as well as corn and soybeans. ...

CBF report

Less than a third of the wastewater treatment plants in the Bay states have been upgraded to remove nitrogen, and few of those are removing the nutrient at levels likely to be needed to clean the Chesapeake, according to a new report.

Only 31 of 269 major wastewater treatment plants in the parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia that are in the Bay watershed got “good” or “excellent” scores for removing nitrogen at or near the levels likely to be needed to achieve Bay goals in the report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. ...

Small Watershed Program offers grants workshops

The Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are issuing the 2004 Request for Proposals for the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program.

The program provides modest awards of federal funds to nonprofit organizations and local governments engaged in watershed stewardship activities.

All interested parties are invited to attend one of a series of free workshops that will provide an overview of the Small Watershed Grants Program, offer recommendations on making a strong proposal and answer questions. Grant recipients from previous years will present information about their projects. ...

Cleanup efforts more accurately tracked; progress estimates reduced

While taking a step forward in its science, the Bay Program is taking a step back in its estimated nutrient reduction progress.

Officials recently agreed to revise assumptions about the effectiveness of some agricultural nutrient control practices after research indicated they were overly optimistic.

At the same time, officials have started calculating the nutrient benefits of some actions that it had not previously accounted for, such as the creation of wetlands, when the Bay Program estimates its cleanup progress. ...

Sarbanes proposes panel to find funding to curb nutrients in Bay

Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-MD, recently proposed legislation to create a federal panel to find new sources of money to reduce nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake, and was joined by Bay state Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD; Rick Santorum, R-PA; John Warner, R-VA; and George Allen, R-VA.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Pollution Control Financing would explore ways to generate funding needed to curb nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from sewage treatment plants, fertilized farms and stormwater. ...

National Zoo exhibit aims to make audiences more crabby

Let the pandas step aside—the National Zoo has a new attraction, straight from the Chesapeake Bay.

The zoo opened a new blue crab exhibit Oct. 17 that highlights the life cycle and environment used by the Bay’s most valuable crustacean.

The exhibit opening coincided with World Water Monitoring Day, and those present for the opening ceremony learned about how their actions affect the crab’s environment by conducting local water quality monitoring and painting storm drains to indicate they were part of the Bay watershed. ...

Bay Program to go on the air to save Chesapeake waterways

With surveys showing that the public is largely supportive of efforts to clean up the Chesapeake and its tributaries, but knows too little about the problems facing waterways or what can be done about them, the Bay Program is planning a new tactic.

Next year, it will launch a pilot mass media campaign aimed at taking a Bay message to a larger portion of the watershed’s 15 million residents in an attempt to spur more individual awareness—and action.

“People are generally positively motivated to do some things to help out, but are a little underinformed about the particulars of what they should do and what they can do,” said Bob Campbell, of the National Park Service and chair of the Bay Program’s Communications and Education Subcommittee. “That prompts us to want to give them some of that information.” ...

New USGS studies show groundwater will slow Bay cleanup

When a drop of water falls onto the watershed, it often is only beginning a long journey to the Chesapeake Bay—one that may not be completed for years, or decades.

If the water runs off the surface and into a stream, it may end up in the Bay in a matter of hours or days.

Just slightly more than half of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake, though, takes a much longer route. It sinks into the soil and then slowly moves toward rivers and streams through groundwater, a journey that can take anywhere from a matter of weeks, to many decades, to complete. ...

A Bay Journal Film, Nassawango Legacy



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