Bay Journal

January 2005 - Volume 14 - Number 10

Maps show where Bay’s treasures are threatened by development

When Dan Marcucci visits local planners in southcentral Pennsylvania these days, he takes along computer-generated maps that clearly show what’s coming to their backyards.

Even if the Pennsylvania–Maryland border were not on the map, it would be evident by the red blotches that start at the state line. The blotches are predicted development hot spots. They also smother green and brown areas on other maps in Marcucci’s portfolio indicating areas important for water quality or prime farm soils. ...

Bush creates committee to better coordinate ocean policy

President George Bush is creating a White House committee to oversee the nation’s ocean policies, with plans to improve research, manage fisheries better and regulate pollution caused by boats.

Responding to a report by a presidential commission, Bush signed an executive order Dec. 17 to launch the Committee on Ocean Policy which will oversee the implementation of a White House Ocean Action Plan outlining specific actions the administration has taken, or plans, to help protect ocean and coastal areas. ...

Despite some changes, CBF rates Bay’s overall status same as 2003

The Chesapeake continued to languish in about the same overall condition it has been in for years, ranking 27 on a scale of 100, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2004 State of the Bay report.

That’s the same score the environmental group gave the Bay the previous year, as well as in its first report, issued in 1998. It is a 1-point drop from the 2002 score, when a drought reduced the flow of nutrients into the Bay and sharply improved water quality.

CBF President Will Baker said state and federal agencies were falling behind in their commitments to restore the Bay by 2010, and called on them to find the funding needed to implement cleanup plans. “It is time for the region’s leaders to take action and dedicate the necessary resources to fulfill their commitments,” he said. ...

Deadline looms for decision on introducing ariakensis oysters

Bay state officials are rapidly approaching their “decision point” about the potential introduction of a nonnative oyster into the Bay, but they stress that the “decision” may simply be that more research is needed.

That decision could come in March, which is the date the states of Maryland and Virginia have set for concluding work on a draft environmental impact statement examining the potential introduction of a reproducing population of Crassostrea ariakensis in the Bay as well as seven alternatives. ...

Once-touted plan for Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone on life support

It is no longer news that Midwest farmers are contributing to a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico that is roughly the size of New Jersey.

Scientists confirmed in 2001 that polluted runoff from farmland is the primary cause of a 5,000-square-mile zone of water where oxygen levels are simply too low to support marine life.

What is news is that the sea is apparently fighting back.

This summer, the number of shark attacks along the coast of Texas grew dramatically, according to state wildlife officials. They speculate that oxygen-deprived sharks are swimming closer to shore to avoid the 5,000 square-mile area of hypoxia. ...

Congress members seek $1 billion for Bay in 2006 budget

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Bay watershed have asked President George Bush to allocate $1 billion for the Bay cleanup in his 2006 budget, which will be released in February.

Citing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel’s report, which called for a $15 billion financing authority to be capitalized over six years to pay for Bay Restoration efforts—with 80 percent of the money coming from the federal government—the letter called for an initial federal payment of $1 billion into the fund during the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. ...

Executive Council expected to address Bay cleanup funding

Finding a way to pay for the multibillion dollar Bay cleanup will highlight the Chesapeake Executive Council meeting, scheduled to take place Jan. 10 at Mount Vernon.

Among the items on the council’s agenda will be adopting goals to remove barriers to fish migration, adopting a new management plan for native oysters and adopting new commitments to educate children about the Bay.

But most of the action—as was the case in the Council’s last meeting in December 2003—is likely to focus on paying for the Bay cleanup. Recent estimates have put the cost of fully implementing cleanup plans written by the states at $4.8 billion a year, although some reports suggest the job could be accomplished for significantly less. ...

Bay Journal web site updated

The Bay Journal unveiled a revamped web site in December that makes it easier to read current news stories, find old ones and share articles with others.

The new site contains all of the material from the print edition and allows users to customize its appearance, including the size of the type, to make articles easier to read. In addition, new options allow people to get printer-friendly versions of material or to directly e-mail article links to friends from the web site.

When articles are displayed, they also contain links to related stories that appeared in earlier editions. And, an improved search engine does a better job of finding articles in the paper’s 11-year database. ...

Maryland water quality standards a watershed event for Bay cleanup

Maryland is close to adopting water quality standards which, on paper, appear less stringent in their protection for deep water areas of the Chesapeake Bay. Ironically, officials say that action will lead to the stepped-up enforcement of clean water laws throughout the watershed, which may be the biggest step toward a cleaner Bay since restoration efforts were launched 21 years ago.

The new standards, under development since 1999, will quickly become the legal foundation upon which almost the entire Chesapeake nutrient and sediment reduction program will be built for years to come. ...

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