Bay Journal

January 2009 - Volume 18 - Number 10

Eels get a lift to former home on Susquehanna

Across Pennsylvania, fishermen thought 1904 was a tough year for eels. Of the 316 licensed eel fishermen, the third highest catch came from a Lancaster County man who trapped 8,000 eels, weighing just 1,928 pounds.

"Complaints are made this year that owing to the lowness of the streams the run of eels was very small and the catch not nearly up to the average," said a report from the state Department of Fisheries.

The fishermen had no idea how bad things could get.

Twenty-four years later, the Conowingo Dam sealed the fate of eels on the Susquehanna, blocking all but the first 10 miles of the river to migratory fish. ...

Scientists, policy leaders unite, argue for more aggressive cleanup

A diverse group of Bay scientists, former policy leaders, authors and others issued a joint statement in December calling for more aggressive-and enforceable-actions to clean up the Chesapeake.

At a news Dec. 8 news conference- the day before the 25th anniversary of the signing of the original Chesapeake Bay Agreement-the group argued that the voluntary, collaborative approach that has been the hallmark of the state-federal Bay Program for the last quarter century was "fatally flawed." ...

MD proposes new limits on blue crab harvests in 2009

Maryland in December proposed setting daily limits on female crab harvests and closing the commercial harvest periodically throughout the season next year with the goal of reviving the Chesapeake Bay's damaged crab population.

The proposed regulations by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources would close the commercial season for harvesting mature female hard crabs from June 1 through June 15, Sept. 26 through Oct. 4, and Nov. 11 to Dec. 15, 2009.

The regulations, designed to help rebuild the struggling blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay, aim to reduce the female blue crab harvest by 34 percent. The state also hopes to ensure that no more than 46 percent of the blue crab population is harvested each year. ...

Holtwood, citing economy, cancels plans to improve fish lift

Hopes of giving migrating shad a boost up the Susquehanna River were dashed in December when the owners of the Holtwood Dam, citing poor economic conditions, withdrew plans to improve fish passage while increasing power generation.

PPL announced Dec. 9 that it had withdrawn the application submitted a year earlier to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking to expand its Holtwood hydroelectric plant in Lancaster County, PA.

"As we evaluated that project, in light of current economic conditions and projections of future energy prices, we reached the conclusion that it is no longer economically justifiable," said William Spence, executive vice president and chief operating officer of PPL Corp. ...

VIMS founder, William Hargis dies; was director from 1962-81

Dr. William Jennings Hargis Jr., the first director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science died Oct. 17.

Hargis, an emeritus professor of Marine Science at VIMS, served as director of the institute from 1962 to 1981. He also directed VIMS' predecessor, the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory from 1959 to 1961, and was instrumental in transforming that small facility into one of the nation's largest research and education facilities focusing on coastal ocean and estuarine science.

In a 2003 interview, Hargis rated the founding of VIMS as his "most significant accomplishment." During his tenure as director, he helped the institute expand from a single building to a 40-acre campus with 11 laboratory and teaching buildings, a field laboratory on the Eastern Shore and an international reputation. ...

Hypoxia may not be top factor for decline in fish populations

The number of oxygen-starved "dead zones" in coastal waters around the world continues to increase, but recent studies question whether worsening water quality in places like the Chesapeake Bay is the primary factor that limits fish populations.

A study published in the Aug. 15 issue of Science identified 405 areas of hypoxia-low oxygen conditions-in coastal areas worldwide. Since publication, the tally has risen to "close to 450" said Robert Diaz, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who co-authored the paper with Rutger Rosenberg in Sweden. ...

Internet calculator helps watershed residents measure their nitrogen ‘footprint’

Sewer or septic? Hybrid or old truck? Large lot or compact development?

How people answer these questions in their daily lives can add up to a big difference for the Bay, and a new calculator helps watershed residents determine the size of their nitrogen "footprint" on the Chesapeake.

Patterned after the increasingly common carbon calculators that allow people to estimate their contribution to greenhouse gases, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has launched an Internet-based nitrogen calculator that allows people to estimate the amount of nitrogen produced annually by their household, and to see how it stacks up against the average. ...

Chesapeake Watershed Network brings Bay partners together

The St. Mary's River Watershed Association is advertising a new way to rally its current and future members in its community.

It has joined a new Internet community on the Chesapeake Watershed Network.

It's free, it's easy, and executive director Bob Lewis thinks it might prove to be more effective than more traditional ways of doing business.

"To me, this is a high-end opportunity that is paid for and monitored by someone else, but with lots of opportunities to control how I use it," he said. ...

Zebra mussels found in lower Susquehanna

Zebra mussels, the infamous invader from the Caspian Sea that has infested the Great Lakes and other water bodies, have finally made their way to the fringes of the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland environmental officials confirmed in December that a thumbnail-size mussel was found attached to a boat at Glen Cove Marina on the Susquehanna River in Harford County, less than 10 miles from the Bay.

In November, Pennsylvania environmental officials confirmed the discovery of a zebra mussel at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland; the first time Driessena polymorpha had been found in the lower Susquehanna River. ...

MD buys 20 miles of Potomac, Bay waterfront

Five large tracts of land valued at about $72 million, which includes nearly 20 miles of Potomac River and Bay waterfront, is being acquired by Maryland as part of what Gov. Martin O'Malley called a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

In announcing the acquisition of the 9,242 acres, the governor also unveiled a new Internet-based mapping system called GreenPrint, which will direct future land protection efforts toward areas that are most ecologically valuable.

The five new tracts, which contain forested habitat for rare species and waterfront property for public access, were recently secured by The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund. The state plans to purchase them with Project Open Space and federal money. ...

Get the Dirt Out effort works to get construction sites to clean up their acts

Diana Muller has one word for the gouged muddy lot of a partially built home in the South River watershed: hideous.

"There's no gravel, no straw. The sediment fence is broken away. When the rain hits, this is going to get really nasty," she said.

Muller is the South Riverkeeper, a full-time advocate for a Maryland river that flows directly into the Chesapeake Bay. She's looking forward to a new program called Get the Dirt Out-a citizen-based effort to correct problems like these, which wash sediment from construction sites into local waterways and the Bay itself. ...

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