Bay Journal

January 2008 - Volume 17 - Number 10

Bay leaders say they’ll not meet 2010 cleanup goal

The Bay cleanup's top policymaking body formally acknowledged in December that 2010 will come and go without meeting its cornerstone goal-cleaning up the Chesapeake.

"I think you probably could have come to that conclusion two years ago," acknowledged Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council.

"No, we are not going to hit [the goal] by 2010. Not on the water quality, not on the nutrient reduction, not on the sediment issues," O'Malley said.

But he and other members of the council insisted at their annual meeting Dec. 5 that cleanup efforts were accelerating. And, O'Malley said, the region should have policies in place by the end of 2010 that would ultimately achieve the clean Bay goal. ...

Grants available for stewardship or farm conservation projects in region

Two programs are offering grants to support restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is soliciting proposals for the Chesapeake Bay Small Watersheds Grant Program.

The program provides grants of up to $200,000 to organizations and local governments working on a local level to protect and improve watershed health in the Chesapeake basin while building citizen-based resource stewardship.

It is managed in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and other partners. ...

Navy launches policy to stem tide of stormwater

Stormwater runoff is a liquid highway that washes pollutants off the land and into local waterways. Hard surfaces such as roads, rooftops and parking lots speed the highway along until it reaches streams and rivers with a volume that erodes shorelines and leaves the water thick with sediment.

It's a major problem in urban areas, and a growing concern in the Chesapeake Bay region, where development is quickly changing green terrain to gray.

To help protect the Bay and other waterbodies, the U.S. Navy has launched a new policy aimed at preventing an increased volume of stormwater runoff from many of its properties nationwide, even as new development takes place. ...

Citing lack of progress, CBF lowers its State of the Bay score

The Bay's health fell one point, to 28, in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's most recent "State of the Bay" report, which found no improvements in any of its 13 indicators.

"Restoring the Bay is not rocket science," said CBF President Will Baker. "What does it say about a society when we can put a man on the moon but are not be able to save the Chesapeake Bay?"

Last year, the CBF scored the Bay at 29 on its 100-point scale-the highest rating since the report was launched in 1998.

This year's decline was the result of increased phosphorus pollution, decreased water clarity and signs of problems for the Bay's blue crab population. ...

Divorce takes its toll on the environment; it’s better to share

Yet another function of modern life has been determined to be dangerous to the environment: divorce.

Divorce rates have been rising in countries around the world, and each time a family dissolves the result is two new households.

"A married household actually uses resources more efficiently than a divorced household," said Jianguo Liu, an ecologist at Michigan State University, whose analysis of the environmental impact of divorce appeared in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

Regional board adopts standards for ‘green’ buildings

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has approved regional "green building" standards that it hopes will be adopted by all area governments.

The standards endorsed by COG's board of directors in December were developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and establish a four-level point system for rating new construction based on whether the buildings use environmentally friendly designs that are, for example, energy efficient, control stormwater runoff or reduce construction-related waste. ...

Bank rolling in the green with eco-friendly building, landscape

As the holding company for five community banks and related financial institutions, Union Bankshares Corp. knows where to invest.

In the roof of its new headquarters.

Also, in the runoff control system for its new parking lot.

Even in its lighting system.

On 14 acres of rolling land near Bowling Green, the company recently completed what is touted as the first environmentally comprehensive construction project in central Virginia.

The major components: a 23,000-square-foot green roof, environmentally sensitive landscaping and outdoor lighting, and a long list of interior features that are eco-friendly and support employee health. ...

Senate panel OKs global warming bill

A Senate committee approved landmark legislation in December that would for the first time set mandatory U.S. limits on emissions of greenhouse gases.

The bill calls for the United States to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent by 2050 from electric power plants, manufacturing and transportation.

The bill was approved 11-8 by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. GOP critics of the bill arguing that limiting greenhouse gas emissions could become a hardship because of higher energy costs, promised a fight on the Senate floor. ...

Businesses for the Bay honors 11 for preventing pollution

The Bay Program's Businesses for the Bay initiative has presented 10 regional businesses with esteemed Environmental Excellence Awards and one individual with the Mentor of the Year award for their efforts in reducing nutrient and chemical pollution in the Bay and its tributaries.

Businesses for the Bay Environmental Excellence Award recipients were selected by their peers and honored for their successful efforts to implement pollution prevention projects.

Pollution prevention-reducing pollutants through equipment, technology and procedure modifications, or by redesigning products-benefits businesses by helping to improve their bottom line as well as the quality of their local environment. ...

Senate approves Farm Bill; measure moves to committee

The U.S. Senate approved its version of a Farm Bill in December that would set aside $165 million for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts over the next five years and increase other conservation funding for farmers.

The Senate bill is substantially different from a version that cleared the House last summer, setting the stage for a conference committee that will try to reconcile the two versions early this year.

"The fact that we have a Farm Bill going to conference is great news, because this country and the Chesapeake Bay needs a Farm Bill and we need it now, and we need one with enhanced conservation provisions, and this one has that," said Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which represents state legislatures. ...

Derelict pots raise specter of ghost fishing

Scientists may have found a type of fishing that could actually benefit the Bay's beleaguered blue crab population.

Fishing for crab pots.

After two years of research, biologists estimate that nearly 42,000 abandoned crab pots are lying on the bottom of Maryland's portion of the Bay. Many of them may continue to catch-and kill-crabs for years.

Crab pots are typically set on the bottom and connected to a buoy on the surface with a line. They are "lost" when lines are cut by boats passing through, or when storms rip buoys lose and move pots around. ...

Regional goal will preserve 695,000 new acres of forest by 2020

Every acre of forest in the Chesapeake Bay region saves tax dollars and prevents pollution. But the decision to keep land in forests is never easy.

Kirk Rodgers, who manages thousands of acres of family forest in Maryland, says that pressure to sell forest land is intense-his family is currently selling several Eastern Shore properties for economic reasons.

"The issues we're facing are shared by a wide spectrum of forest landowners," Rodgers said. "I'm pessimistic about the ability of forest landowners to hold out in the face of development pressures when coupled with very little government incentive to keep forests as forests." ...

D.C. program seeks ‘green’ solutions to curb polluted runoff

An agreement between the EPA and the District of Columbia will incorporate a variety of "green infrastructure" techniques, such as green roofs and rain gardens, into the district's stormwater discharge permit to help curb polluted runoff.

The plan, which officials said could become a model for other stormwater permits, calls for the district to undertake and monitor a number of specific actions, many of which will provide information for more-detailed plans in the future.

Instead of managing runoff after it is collected in stormwater systems, the program aims to reduce the volume runoff by planting trees and implementing "low impact development" techniques that give rainwater more opportunities to absorbed into the ground instead of being flushed into a stream. ...

Progress of Chesapeake Cleanup

The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are considered the main threats to the health of the Bay because they spur algae blooms that cloud the water, resulting in the die-off of underwater grass beds, which provide critical food and habitat for a host of fish, shellfish and waterfowl. When the algae die, they decompose in a process that depletes oxygen from the water, rendering huge areas off-limits to aquatic life.

Reducing nutrients has been a goal of the Bay Program since the mid-1980s. ...

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