Bay Journal

March 2009 - Volume 19 - Number 1

Cleanup funds,in change of tactics, will be targeted

When an unprecedented amount of Farm Bill money flows into the watershed this year, agencies involved in the Bay cleanup will have a new goal: Proving they can get the biggest nutrient reduction bang from each of the 23 million bucks.

That's a sharp change in course. In the past, cleanup spending has often been so broadly dispersed across the Bay's 64,000-square-mile watershed that it was nearly impossible to prove it was improving water quality.

Amid such criticism, federal agency officials have laid the groundwork to zero in on problem areas with their most effective nutrient runoff control measures like never before. ...

Conference to highlight ecosystem-based management for Bay

As part of the effort to promote better management of ecosystems like the Bay and increase communication, decision makers and the scientific community will convene March 22-25 in Baltimore for "Ecosystem-Based Management: The Chesapeake And Other Systems."

The conference will address a variety of issues, including:

  • Decisions involving the Bay are often complex and require multidisciplinary input made across agencies and departments. How could this less traditional governance be expanded in future watershed decisions to ensure that linkages recognizing air, land and water issues include all relevant governmental departments?
  • Considering Baywide nutrient and sediment load allocations now in place or those likely in future total maximum daily loads throughout the region, should local land use decisions only be made after consulting and forming an agreement with other counties or townships in that watershed?
  • How could the complexity understood by the scientific community for ecosystem response be incorporated in future governance in the region?
  • Does the understood complexity for ecosystem response foster the development of readily transferable technology within the scientific community to assist EBM decisions?
  • Could decision-making processes at local-state levels be sufficiently understood to ensure focused technology application for these decisions?


Bay Trust announces volunteer, teacher, student awards for 2009

The Chesapeake Bay Trust recently announced the winners of the Ellen Fraites Wagner Award, the Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship and the Teacher of the Year award.

Ellyn Vail is the recipient of the Ellen Fraites Wagner Award, which recognizes a Marylander who has demonstrated a special commitment to educating and involving citizens in Chesapeake Bay protection and restoration activities. Vail has been instrumental in founding and developing the Sassafras River Association on the Eastern Shore. In just a few short years, it has grown from an idea shared by a few local residents to a thriving 400-member organization with a board, executive director and Riverkeeper. In her role as a board member, Vail has been instrumental in building the citizen base of the organization and creating partnerships throughout Cecil and Kent counties. ...

Fisheries biologist receives Bernie Fowler award

Peter Bergstrom, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was honored with the prestigious 2008 Bernie Fowler Award at Maryland's 13th Annual Tributary Team meeting Feb 7.

The so-called "White Sneaker Award" is named for the former state senator who initiated the annual Patuxent River wade-ins more than 25 years ago to test water turbidity and bring attention to declining water quality. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions of a tributary team member to Bay health and habitat. ...

Corsica cleanup learns that more than money is needed to succeed

After months of effort, Frank Digialleonardo in February finally succeeded in getting workers with a backhoe to rip up a perfectly good septic system in his front yard.

They replaced it with one that's more expensive to install and costs more to maintain. Perhaps not surprisingly, relatively few of his neighbors are lining up to follow his lead.

"I was just committed to doing it," Digialleonardo said. "I had been an advocate for that particular program for years."

As the past president of the Corsica River Conservancy, and former chair of Maryland's Upper Eastern Shore Tributary Team, he supported programs that encourage the replacement of traditional septic systems with advanced ones that remove much of the nitrogen from the waste. ...

Executive Council to meet May 12

The Chesapeake Executive Council, the top policy-making body for Bay restoration, is scheduled to meet at Mount Vernon on May 12.

Details of the meeting are still being determined, but council members, who have acknowledged that the 2010 goal to restore Chesapeake Bay water quality will not be met, are expected to consider a new cleanup deadline.

The council is also expected to set the first in a series of two-year goals that would outline what each jurisdiction expects to accomplish through the end of 2011. Council members committed to the establishment of interim two-year milestones at their meeting last November. The intent is to improve accountability and keep restoration progress on track. ...

Bay governors ask Obama to make Chesapeake cleanup a top priority

The region's governors are asking President Barack Obama to recognize the Chesapeake Bay as a "national treasure" and assert stronger federal leadership in efforts to clean up the nation's largest estuary.

A letter hand-delivered to the Obama administration by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine on behalf of the Chesapeake Executive Council asks the president to issue an executive order that would elevate Bay restoration efforts to a top national priority.

The letter also called for a series of legislative actions that would strengthen-and increase funding for-Bay initiatives. ...

Millions of dollars in stimulus bill could aid Bay’s restoration

The Chesapeake Bay region stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars to help upgrade wastewater treatment plants, build wetlands, restore habitats and even improve fish passage from the massive $787 billion stimulus bill approved by Congress in February.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was largely praised by environmental groups across the country, provides tens of billions of dollars nationwide for conservation programs over the next two years, while providing billions more for programs that promote alternative energy and energy conservation as well as public transit. ...

Value of rockfish poached from Bay, Potomac set at $3 million to $7 million

About 600,000 pounds of rockfish with a retail value of $3 million to $7 million were handled by a ring that trafficked fish from the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River, law enforcement officials said in early February.

Nine people have been charged after a four-year undercover probe that authorities called the largest-ever investigation of illegal commercial fishing in the area.

According to prosecutors, the group included fishermen and the owner of a seafood market in the Georgetown area of the District of Columbia. ...

2008 female crab harvest down about 33% in MD, VA

Catches of female blue crabs were down by about a third in both Maryland and Virginia for 2008 according to estimates by fishery managers.

That achieved the objectives set by governors of both states last spring to curb female crab harvests by at least 34 percent to help increase numbers of the crustacean, whose population in the Bay has lingered near record-low levels for most of the last decade.

While harvest controls imposed on fishermen last year appear to have worked, scientists won't know whether they achieved the ultimate goal-boosting the overall population-until the annual Baywide blue crab survey is completed in April. ...

EIS math error may underestimate risk of ariakensis introduction

The five-year review of oyster management options appears to have massively underestimated the likelihood that sterilized foreign oysters used in aquaculture would lead to the accidental introduction of breeding populations into the Bay.

Last October, the Army Corps of Engineers and the states of Maryland and Virginia released a 1,500-page Environmental Impact Statement that analyzed the risks and benefits of various oyster management alternatives aimed at restoring the ecological and economic role of oysters in the Bay. ...

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