Bay Journal

April 2004 - Volume 14 - Number 2

Often, the best fish passage is none at all

For residents along Pennsylvania’s Conestoga Creek, 1731 was the spring the shad didn’t show up. And they were irked. Each spring, they counted on the arrival of the silvery fish to help support their families. But that year, their nets went empty.

The culprit, they quickly discovered, was a downstream mill owner who had dammed the creek to power his operation. Enraged, upstream residents took their case to the Pennsylvania Assembly, demanding that the dam be torn out. ...

Feds considering pound net restrictions to protect sea turtles

Federal officials are considering new restrictions on how commercial fishermen use pound nets in the lower Bay during late spring and early summer in order to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles.

Each spring, hundreds of sea turtles migrate north along the Atlantic Coast and into the Chesapeake Bay where they forage throughout the summer.

But the National Marine Fisheries Service said that it has documented high numbers of stranded sea turtles, and sea turtles in pound nets, around the Bay during May and June. ...

Bay Program names panel to explore cleanup funding options

Bay Program officials spent nearly three years wading through scientific analyses and exploring cleanup options before finally setting new water quality goals for the Chesapeake last spring.

Now, it has appointed a panel of business leaders, politicians and economic experts and given them the next six months to do something that may be even harder—finding the billions of dollars it will take to meet the new goals.

The 15-member Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel is charged with finding innovative solutions to pay for the huge nutrient and sediment reductions needed to improve water quality for fish, shellfish and and other creatures. ...

Study finds markets for chicken litter much closer to home

Most chicken farmers would agree that the chicken litter piling up in some Delmarva counties is simply too much of a good thing.

In the world of manure fertilizer, chicken litter is king: It’s a better fertilizer and it’s easier to transport and store.

The problem, as in most businesses, has always been three things: location, location, location. In this case, many of the buyers are too far from the sellers.

Some of the region’s litter is turned into pellets and shipped to the Midwest. But, only a small fraction—about 60,000 tons of the 570,000 to 700,000 tons produced on the Delmarva Peninsula—winds up in the rail cars that hauled in the Midwestern grain used to feed the chickens in the first place. ...

Pennsylvanians support bond measure, poll says

More than seven of 10 Pennsylvanians support the $800 million bond proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell to support Growing Greener environmental programs, according to a new poll.

The bond, which must be placed on the November ballot by the General Assembly and approved by voters, has faced opposition from business groups who say it will increase the cost of doing business in the state.

The survey showed 71 percent supported the bond, and that it had strong bipartisan backing in every region of the state. Support remained at 66 percent even when people were told the proposal could increase their household bills by $20 a year. ...

Horseshoe crab harvest restricted to help shorebirds

Fishery managers have announced further harvest limits on horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay and parts of the Mid-Atlantic Coast to increase protection for shorebird populations.

The Delaware Bay is inhabited by the largest population of American horseshoe crabs. Considered “a living fossil,” the species has barely changed in about 250 million years.

The decision was announced in March by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Horseshoe Crab Management Board, which stated its intent is to “increase the abundance of horseshoe crab eggs to meet the energetic requirements of migratory shorebirds that stopover in the Delaware Bay.” ...

USDA to provide $5 million for Delmarva conservation plan

Efforts to control runoff pollution and protect wildlife habitat on the Delmarva Peninsula, the heart of the region’s intense poultry industry, will get a $5 million boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced in March that the Bush administration this year would make the money available—in addition to other Farm Bill funding—to help improve water quality and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

“This funding will help protect farmland and wildlife habitat, restore freshwater and tidal wetlands, as well as support the economic viability of agriculture in this region,” Veneman said. ...

Plan to participate in 2004 River Sojourns

It’s time to start making plans to grab a paddle and head to some of the Bay’s greatest tributaries.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has set the dates for its four annual river sojourns, which get people out on the water, and give them a chance to take part in special programs along the way.

Sojourners usually cover about 10 miles of river in a day, stopping en route to meet with representatives from local communities. Each evening, they take part in group meals and environmental programs that are designed to educate paddlers and their guests about the river’s importance, both locally and to the Bay. ...

Reservoir proponents to get another hearing before VMRC

The roller coaster trip for the proposed King William Reservoir will get at least one more bump this year as the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which rejected a key permit last year, has agreed to grant a new hearing to proponents.

In a deal struck by state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the commission agreed to grant the city of Newport News a new quasi-legal hearing in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against the VMRC.

The commission last year voted 6-2 to deny a permit needed by the city so it could draw water from the Mattaponi River to fill its proposed 1,500-acre reservoir on nearby Cohoke Creek in King William County, flooding more than 400 acres of wetlands. ...

Ospreys doing better in the Bay area, although concerns linger

During two recent summers, scientists studied osprey nests in some of the most polluted regions of the Chesapeake, hoping to learn whether birds in the sky could shed light on conditions in the murky water below.

What did ospreys, the giant “fish hawks” often seen nesting on buoys and platforms around the Bay, have to say about their surroundings?

Quite a lot, it seems. From an osprey’s point of view, things have generally gotten better in recent decades. ...

Embrey Dam removal opens 100s of miles of river to fish

Forty generations of American shad, alewife and blueback herring have had to stop their migration up the Rappahannock River when they reached the base of the Embrey Dam in Fredericksburg, VA.

That changed in an instant on Feb. 23 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working with the City of Fredericksburg and the volunteer organization Friends of the Rappahannock, blasted away a 130-foot section of the dam so that fish can now migrate to spawning grounds nearly 100 miles upriver in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. ...

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