Bay Journal

October 2007 - Volume 17 - Number 7

Biofuels beyond corn could be driving forcein Bay’s recovery

Biofuels could eventually be a boon for the Chesapeake, with farmers growing hundreds of thousands of acres of nutrient-absorbing switchgrass and wastewater treatment plants using excess nutrients to raise crops of algae.

But those sources of biofuels-and the accompanying benefits-are still a long way from making it into the nation's gas tanks, according to a new report.

In the near future, most biofuel activity will focus on ethanol from corn, and will add to the Bay's nutrient pollution problems unless "extraordinary" efforts are made to control runoff, warned the report from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, an advisory group to state legislatures. ...

York River oyster project to test viability of aquaculture industry

In 18 months to two years, the mesh bags of baby oysters recently scattered into Virginia's York River could yield hundreds of bushels of market-size oysters-and herald a new way of doing business. To reach that point, the 2 million spat planted in August will have to survive the forces that have depleted stocks of the briny catch in the Chesapeake Bay-disease, pollution and, more recently, cownose rays.

If they do, it could demonstrate whether aquaculture is a viable option for the oyster industry. "This is an alternative way to keep oystermen oystering and watermen on the water," said Tommy Leggett, an oyster specialist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. ...

Invasive species will no doubt find this audit taxing

Everywhere one looks in Zeta Cross' yard, it's green, green, green, which is good. But let's get a closer view.

Multiflora rose over there. English ivy down below. Isn't that tree of heaven...and Japanese honeysuckle? She's even got garlic mustard and purple nightshade, porcelain berry and vinca.

Oh, no! Cross has enough runaway stuff in her yard to give an environmental purist like Steve Saffier cardiac arrest. But he's looking healthy, keeping cool, doing his diplomatic best not to embarrass her or make her feel bad. ...

Pace of dam removals accelerating across watershed

In mid-August, when river advocates gathered on the banks of the Rivanna River to announce the ongoing breaching of the Woolen Mills dam, they heard something unknown for nearly two centuries.

The summer drought had been broken by rain the previous night, raising the level of the river through Charlottesville; the Rivanna was flowing freely through a portion of the breach.

"That was probably the first time in 177 years that you could hear the river there," said Jason Halbert, a volunteer with the Rivanna Conservation Society who had been working to remove the dam for six years. ...

NOAA report finds most coastal areas suffer from excess nutrients

The vast majority of the nation's estuarine waters suffer from excess nutrients, and most are predicted to worsen by 2020 as populations in coastal areas continue to swell, according to a recent report.

The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also showed that the mid-Atlantic region-including the Chesapeake Bay-was the most impacted area of the nation's coastline.

It was an update of a 1999 assessment, and while it found relatively little change in conditions over the last decade, it predicted coastal conditions will worsen in the future. ...

Report seeks greater efforts to manage pollution from development

The EPA and its Bay Program partners need to place more emphasis on controlling nutrient runoff from urban and suburban areas if they are to keep pace with the impact of new development, according to a federal report.

In river-specific cleanup plans, known as tributary strategies, states have generally placed more emphasis on controlling pollution from wastewater treatment plants and agriculture-which are considered more cost-effective-than on controlling runoff from streets, roofs, lawns and other developed areas. ...

Gypsy moths taking bite out of Bay watershed’s forests

Gypsy moth caterpillars chewed their way through more than 1 million acres of the region's forests this year, making it the worst outbreak of the exotic pest in more than a decade.

Fall brought an end to their droppings-feces and leaf debris-that littered many patios and driveways, but experts say the outbreak will affect the forest ecosystem for years to come.

Gypsy moth caterpillars eat vast amounts of tree leaves. The process weakens the trees and makes them more likely to die over time. ...

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