Bay Journal

February 2006 - Volume 16 - Number 11

Environmental stewardship growing presence in churches

A small congregation gathers every week to worship at the Maryland Presbyterian Church in Towson, just north of Baltimore. They also gather regularly to nurture the four acres of woods surrounding their church and to explore their role in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

“We share a conviction that it is our responsibility to care for the Earth,” said Bill Breakey, chair of the church environmental stewardship committee. “It’s a God-given treasure, and we are a part of it.”

To put those convictions into practice, church members formed a study group to explore their spiritual relationship to the Earth and discuss sustainable living. ...

Study says farm conservation program needs more green stuff

Reward the best and motivate the rest. That was the motto former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman coined for the Conservation Security Program, a new USDA green payments program that is tied to farmer performance.

But, a new study suggests that policy-makers need to put more “green” in the pockets of farmers if Congress wants more producers to adopt the practices that reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous reaching the Chesapeake Bay.

That’s according to a team of farmers, scientists and resource managers funded in part by the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology to survey farmers and assess the program. ...

Farming programs key to reducing nutrients in Chesapeake

Agricultural issues have moved to the forefront of the Bay agenda recently for a simple reason: Whether the Chesapeake ever achieves the clean water envisioned by cleanup advocates will hinge largely on whether efforts to reign in nutrient runoff from farm fields and animal feeding operations are successful.

About two-fifths of the nitrogen and phosphorus that fouls Chesapeake water by spurring algae blooms and removing oxygen originates from agricultural lands, according to Bay Program estimates; about half of that stems directly from animal manure. ...

VA seafood industry, plagued by rays, decides if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em

Cownose rays look and act like stingrays, their kite-shaped bodies gliding along the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay, gobbling oysters and clams like seafood lovers at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Once considered graceful visitors to the Bay, cownose rays have become such a problem for a struggling oyster industry that Virginia officials now want to turn the tables on the winged creatures and start eating them—in part to curb their numbers in state waters.

The Virginia Marine Products Board recently dispatched a trade mission to South Korea to determine whether Asian palates and wallets might support a new commercial fishery for rays harvested from the Bay. ...

Ehrlich announces funding to protect, restore MD’s natural resources

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in January unveiled budget proposals that would significantly ramp up environmental spending to nearly a half-billion dollars for Bay-related programs next year.

The proposals would provide full funding for Program Open Space, new funding for energy efficiency, and other targeted investments to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, including the first-in-the-region Corsica River Restoration Project.

“While I am very proud of our accomplishments to date, this budget accelerates our efforts to restore the Bay, to protect our open space and farmland and to reduce our energy consumption,” Ehrlich said. ...

Kaine address tackles sprawl, funding for Chesapeake cleanup

In his first State of the Commonwealth address, Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine sought legislation giving localities the zoning power to slow development if it overwhelms local transportation.

Kaine, a Democrat, also asked the Republican-run General Assembly to preserve major funding provisions in former Gov. Mark R. Warner’s final budget, including, $232 million for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

The speech, though, was dominated by transportation needs, which he defined as the most urgent need before the state. ...

Science panel urges states to take a longer look at trading programs

A scientific advisory panel has some words of advice for states speeding to develop nutrient trading policies intended to shave the multibillion dollar cost of the Chesapeake cleanup effort through nutrient trading.

Go slow.

The Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, which includes researchers and economists, recently adopted a statement cautioning that programs being developed by the states, especially those involving so-called point-to-nonpoint trading, could actually increase the cleanup costs. ...

2006 Ellen Fraites Wagner Award given to Charles Conklin of the Alliance

Charles “Charlie” Conklin, outgoing chairman of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Board of Directors, was awarded the 2006 Ellen Fraites Wagner Award by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

“Charlie’s tireless devotion to our environment, and the Bay in particular, is extraordinary,” stated Midgett Parker Jr., chairman of the trust’s Board of Trustees. “In addition to his own hands-on work, his real gift is in encouraging others to get involved. He gives new meaning to the word ‘retirement.’” ...

They Check In and They Don’t Check Out

On a foggy January morning, weeks after the end of crab season, a survey team with high-tech sonar gear was scanning the bottom of the Bay. They were trying to capture images of fishing phantoms.

There were no telltale buoys marking underwater crab pots anywhere in sight around Thomas Point at the mouth of Maryland’s South River. But, as Steve Giordano examined his shipboard computer monitor, it appeared likely that crab fishing had not entirely stopped.

“Those are definitely pots,” said Giordano, fisheries program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Office, pointing to nearly a dozen black squares being “seen” on the bottom by a sidescan sonar hanging over the edge of the boat. ...

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