Bay Journal

December 2007 - Volume 17 - Number 9

Far upstream, New York lays plans to stem tide of runoff to the Bay

At first glance, it's hard to imagine, while scrambling though a wooded New York hillside, out of sight of any stream, that the Chesapeake Bay starts here. But Jim Curatolo sees it very clearly.

There is no stream, but Curatolo is focused on an old, rutted logging trail. All winter, the snow that accumulates on the slope absorbs nitrogen oxides as the pollutant falls from the sky. When spring rains melt the winter snowpack, these ruts funnel runoff down the slope and into Sulfur Spring Creek as effectively as a concrete gutter. ...

Senate fails to pass farm bill; programs to help Bay in limbo

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a new farm bill in November, putting in limbo the legislation Bay advocates hoped would reap hundreds of millions of dollars for the Chesapeake cleanup.

Politically popular, the bill stalled in a dispute between the parties over unrelated amendments that Republicans wanted to add. Democrats failed to get the 60 votes they needed to cut off debate on the measure. The final vote was 55-42.

It was unclear whether the Senate, with a backlog of other legislation, would be able to take up the measure before next year, although Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he hoped to find additional support and have another vote in early December. ...

VA poultry industry to increase use of phytase

Chickens and turkeys in Virginia will get a new diet in coming years under agreements signed by state officials and poultry industry representatives aimed at slashing phosphorus levels in poultry litter by 2010.

Under the agreements signed Nov. 14, the state's largest poultry integrators will optimize the use of the enzyme phytase in poultry feed to strive for a 30 percent phosphorus reduction in poultry litter.

That should result in less runoff into local streams-and the Bay-when the litter is used as fertilizer. ...

Congress overrides veto of water bill; Bay to benefit

Chesapeake Bay projects-from the upgrade of the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant to the expansion of Poplar Island-could eventually gain millions of dollars of support after Congress overrode President Bush's veto of a $23.2 billion water projects bill.

The act authorizes improvements for nearly 900 waterway projects nationwide by the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as about $475 million related to the Chesapeake and the region's waterways.

The bill was vetoed because of its cost. But the Water Resource Development Act only authorizes projects. Separate appropriations bills would have to fund each of the projects in the future. ...

Review finds some BMPs not as effective as thought

The way to clean up the Chesapeake Bay can best be described by three letters and three words. The letters are "BMPs." The words are, "lots of them."

BMPs are shorthand for best management practices, which include a range of actions that reduce the flow of nutrients and sediment off the land and into waterways. The term covers everything from planting streamside forest buffers to changing farm animal diets to building stormwater detention ponds.

They are also the cornerstone for Bay cleanup plans. Tributary strategies written by the states detail exactly how extensively various BMPs need to be implemented to meet nutrient reduction goals-how many acres must be planted in cover crops, how many manure storage structures must be built and so on. ...

Groups seek ‘endangered’ status for loggerhead turtles along Atlantic Coast

Two environmental groups are asking the Interior Department to declare loggerhead sea turtles that inhabit the Atlantic Coast officially endangered, maintaining that tens of thousands of the turtles are killed annually by commercial fishing and because of coastal development.

The loggerhead sea turtle is already classified as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act, but environmentalists say a higher level of protection is needed for the turtles which nest primarily along the southern Atlantic Coast and to some extent off the Gulf Coast of Florida. ...

Stony Run makeover music to the ears of stream’s restorers

Restoration projects have triggered more than one metamorphosis along the Stony Run stream in Baltimore. The latest one—wriggling, hopping and croaking—has been a special source of delight. After a long absence, frogs are making a comeback.

Stony Run flows into the Jones Falls and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Until recently, it had little habitat to attract or sustain a frog population. Like many urban streams, its once meandering path had been gouged by stormwater runoff into a straight chute with high banks. ...

75-acre riparian buffer project completed in Baltimore area

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's RestoreCorp: Watershed Restoration Assistance Center, in partnership with Constellation Energy and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, on Nov. 10 wrapped up a three-year, 75-acre riparian forest buffer-planting project in the greater Baltimore region.

The project began in 2005, at Moores Run in northeast Baltimore city. The Herring Run Watershed Association was a partner in that initial phase. Over the three years, other partners included the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance at Leister Park in Hampstead and the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy at Cloverland Farms. ...

Loss of forests, sewer overflows earn Potomac a D+

The impacts of fast-paced development, coupled with the loss of forests and continued pollution from urban and agriculture runoff combined to give the Potomac River a D+ in a report by an environmental group.

The 14-year-old Potomac Conservancy said in its first State of the Nation's River report that the Potomac had improved since 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson labeled it a "national disgrace" after centuries of degradation by sewage and other contaminants and made its cleanup a national goal. ...

Common ground: Highlands’ program links environment, economy

The Mid-Atlantic Highlands, which give birth to many of the streams feeding the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, are getting some help to address a long legacy of environmental and economic problems.

A new state-federal program aimed at healing the highlands may also help the Chesapeake. But program leaders say the benefits will come from talking less about the Bay and more about the mountains.

"We'll be doing things that benefit the Bay but from the perspective of local needs," said Tom DeMoss of the EPA. It is the first and only EPA regional initiative that is not defined by a water body and its surrounding drainage area. ...

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