Bay Journal

Opinion

Look at impacts on waterways before wading into land use decisions

What happens on the land affects the water. Most of us know this, yet we fail to give it much consideration when adopting land use regulations or approving land development plans, actions that can have a marked impact on local waters and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

During my tenure as a council member and then mayor of Takoma Park, MD, I participated in many land use discussions. Local elected officials regularly consider the adoption of zoning regulations, comprehensive plan updates, and subdivision and land development ordinances.

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You can own the Chesapeake’s riches without acquiring property

I grew up middle class but land rich: roaming hundreds of acres of woods and marsh, hunting properties owned by my dad’s poultry company and his best friend. And I always dreamed that someday I’d be wealthy enough to afford my own wonderful, big chunk of Chesapeake, a dream that receded after I stopped pursuing chicken moguldom for newspapering.

But there are a lot of ways to “own” land, as it has turned out — and many ways to become “rich.”

The most obvious way is to know and support the lands you already own — your nearby national treasures.

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What’s next for communities when air quality concerns fall on deaf ears?

At the Maryland Environmental Health Network, air quality is chief among the issues we tackle. Although it’s not well highlighted, Maryland’s air quality has problems. Both our citizens and the Chesapeake Bay are vulnerable. 

The causes of poor air quality are many, from industrial pollution and waste disposal to agriculture, truck traffic, emissions from an ever-growing network of pipelines stretching from Canada to Virginia, and bad breezes blowing through the Ohio River Valley. 

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, about one-third of the nitrogen polluting the Bay comes through the air. And across Maryland, more than 430,000 adults have asthma. In fact, our residents have an above-average chance of experiencing the onset of asthma in their lifetimes. 

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Become more enlightened on the benefits of solar energy fields

In his article, Solar power’s new look: more landscape-friendly siting (April 2018), Timothy B. Wheeler wrote, “But if many cornfields turn into solar fields, it could have unforeseen consequences on land use, local economies, wildlife habitat and maybe even water quality.” Actually, we have enough scientific knowledge to foresee quite a few of those consequences — and they would be positive ones. Here are some examples.

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Partnership’s new tree-tment helps PA streams, streets tackle runoff ills

Larry Herr walks along the stream buffer that will get more new trees to further restore and protect Silver Creek as it babbles through 76 acres of the rolling, forested hills of his Lebanon County, PA, farm.

The native trees will support natural ecosystems and provide habitat and food for the brook trout that Larry Herr cares so much about, as well as birds, mammals, insects and macroinvertebrates. More trees added nearby will filter and absorb runoff from a nearby pasture and Herr’s small herd of beef cattle.

Larry Herr’s modest stand of 50–75 new trees is one of many important pieces in Pennsylvania’s pollution reduction puzzle.

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B4B members continue to grow their environmental impact

Two years ago, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay kicked off the new Businesses for the Bay Membership Association. Its mission is to encourage businesses to take voluntary, innovative and measurable actions that improve water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, as well as raise public understanding of the valuable role its members play in environmental restoration.

The association is an opportunity for businesses to network, share ideas, make their voices heard and work together for a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake watershed.

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A Chesapeake portrait, painted by almost a thousand words

Combing the beach, I stoop to pick up an essay for my upcoming college nature writing class. It’s a reddish, roundish pebble, tumbling in the clear lapping waves during a campout to the vanished community of Holland Island.

For a couple of centuries, before erosion forced Holland’s people to the mainland, my pebble was a brick, proud and sturdy and eminently useful in its uniform rectangularity for stacking when constructing a home’s foundation with precise edges and level tops.

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What does the Bay TMDL Midpoint Assessment mean to you?

The final details have been hammered out and the wheels put into motion. Over the last few months, the Principals’ Staff Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program has met more than once to come to consensus on several important decisions impacting the future of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

These decisions range from the approval of a vastly improved suite of modeling tools to how to account for climate change impacts across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. With the final results of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Midpoint Assessment expected by June, and planning for the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans under way, these decisions will help set the direction forward for restoration actions taking place through 2025 in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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African Americans have navigated Bay’s waters since Jamestown

Men of African descent have had a relationship with the navigation and economic trade of the Chesapeake since indentured servants arrived in Jamestown in 1619. From the American Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 and the Civil War, black watermen enhanced maritime navigation and trade on the Bay during some of the most critical times in our nation’s history. 

Some of the first blacks to be legally classified as American citizens were sailors. In 1796, the federal government began issuing Seamen’s Protection Certificates, which defined those who possessed them as American citizens. Nicknamed “Black Jacks,” these men worked as equals alongside whites while on the water during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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Orth’s work with Bay’s grass has led to high expectations for its recovery

An important Chesapeake Bay paper was published in March in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Written by Jonathan Lefchek, his mentor Robert Orth and a host of Bay scientists, the paper delivers good news that has actually been peer-reviewed. Bringing together extensive observational data, modeling and statistical analysis, the scientists present compelling evidence that the sustained efforts to reduce nutrient pollution entering this great estuary are resulting in a long-anticipated recovery in the abundance and biodiversity of submerged aquatic vegetation.

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How much woods would a woodpecker need if it’s to succeed?

The piney woods stretching for miles around us smell springy, as warm winds melt the last of a big January snow. At the crest of a rise, Bobby Clontz stops his pickup: “Look back…that’s a hard view to beat.”

A tawny, sunlit sea of native grasses and low shrubs laps the dark columns of tall, widely spaced loblolly pines. Light streams through the green needles, which gleam as they toss in the breeze.

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In case anyone is asking: Warmer temperatures hurt the Bay

This is fundamental to the science behind saving the Bay.

In a February interview on KSNV-TV in Las Vegas, Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, questioned whether a warming climate might actually be a good thing. “We know that humans have flourished during times of warming trends. So, I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Do we really know what the ideal temperature should be during the year 2100, or the year 2018?” he asked.

Here in the Chesapeake Bay, there is overwhelming documentation of the damage that climate change will wreak on this national treasure.

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Opinion: Archives

Finding enchantment in our theater of grace

Fairies are nesting in my trees. Right there in my front lawn, at the very top of my tulip poplars. In the wintertime I can see them cleverly posing as seed clusters perched at the end of the trees’ highest branches. Sometimes they...

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Around the Watershed

What does the Bay TMDL Midpoint Assessment mean to you?

The final details have been hammered out and the wheels put into motion. Over the last few months, the Principals’ Staff Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program has met more than once to come to consensus on several important decisions impacting the future of the Chesapeake Bay...

Hogan takes reins of Council at a critical time for the Chesapeake

In the end, it was a custom-made crab cracker, made from the wood of the Pride of Baltimore, and a crab baseball hat that sealed the transition. On June 8 at the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Executive Council, Gov. Terry McAuliffe officially handed over the...

The Bay Program: It takes a partnership to save an estuary

As the story goes, the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay began with a boat trip. In 1973, after hearing reports of the estuary’s ailing health, Sen. Charles “Mac” Mathias, R-MD, set out on a “fact-finding tour”: a five-day trip traversing the Maryland portion of...

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Chesapeake Born

You can own the Chesapeake’s riches without acquiring property

I grew up middle class but land rich: roaming hundreds of acres of woods and marsh, hunting properties owned by my dad’s poultry company and his best friend. And I always dreamed that someday I’d be wealthy enough to afford my own wonderful, big chunk of Chesapeake, a dream that...

A Chesapeake portrait, painted by almost a thousand words

Combing the beach, I stoop to pick up an essay for my upcoming college nature writing class. It’s a reddish, roundish pebble, tumbling in the clear lapping waves during a campout to the vanished community of Holland Island. For a couple of centuries, before erosion forced...

How much woods would a woodpecker need if it’s to succeed?

The piney woods stretching for miles around us smell springy, as warm winds melt the last of a big January snow. At the crest of a rise, Bobby Clontz stops his pickup: “Look back…that’s a hard view to beat.” A tawny, sunlit sea of native grasses and low shrubs laps...

Read more Chesapeake Born »

Conservation Matters

Terrapin park shows importance of access to the Bay

The Terrapin Nature Area in Stevensville, MD, reminds me why I’ve committed my career to conservation. This gorgeous park hides in plain sight on Kent Island, waving to everyone traveling eastward over the Bay Bridge, and offers so much to its visitors. Managed by Queen...

Immerse yourself in Dumbarton Oaks Park

The Japanese have a practice translated in English as “forest bathing,” in which people immerse themselves in a forest as a preventative health measure. Studies have shown tremendous benefits of this practice, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and improved sleep,...

At the ten-year mark, happy birthday to the Bay’s beautiful and profoundly historic national trail

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year, we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of a national park we have right here in our collective backyard: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Winding through much of the Chesapeake region, the...

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Forum

What’s next for communities when air quality concerns fall on deaf ears?

At the Maryland Environmental Health Network, air quality is chief among the issues we tackle. Although it’s not well highlighted, Maryland’s air quality has problems. Both our citizens and the Chesapeake Bay are vulnerable.  The causes of poor air quality are many, from...

Become more enlightened on the benefits of solar energy fields

In his article, Solar power’s new look: more landscape-friendly siting (April 2018), Timothy B. Wheeler wrote, “But if many cornfields turn into solar fields, it could have unforeseen consequences on land use, local economies, wildlife habitat and maybe even water quality.”...

Partnership’s new tree-tment helps PA streams, streets tackle runoff ills

Larry Herr walks along the stream buffer that will get more new trees to further restore and protect Silver Creek as it babbles through 76 acres of the rolling, forested hills of his Lebanon County, PA, farm. The native trees will support natural ecosystems and provide habitat and food for...

Read more Forum »

Letters to the Editor

Elect to protect Eastern Shore

Thank goodness the election is finally over. I heard the term “election stress disorder” this fall and it immediately resonated with me and many others I know. Part of the stress for me related to the continuous news cycle and overwhelmingly negative tone of the presidential...

Bay needs menhaden more than reduction industry

Much has been written and discussed about menhaden (Brevootia tyrannus), a forage fish for many other fish, birds and mammals. Recently, a bill was introduced into the Virginia Legislature to move the management of these fish from the Virginia Legislature to the Virginia Marine Resources...

Biodiversity needs human diversity among those who protect it

I read with great interest the Bay Journal’s recent article, “The ‘green ceiling’: Environmental organizations lack diversity” (November 2014). As an African American woman fish and wildlife biologist, there were not many faces that looked like mine as I...

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Message from the Alliance

B4B members continue to grow their environmental impact

Two years ago, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay kicked off the new Businesses for the Bay Membership Association. Its mission is to encourage businesses to take voluntary, innovative and measurable actions that improve water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and...

Project Clean Stream collects future stewards as well as trash

Every year between March and the first week of June, tens of thousands of volunteers come together to clean up their local communities as a part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Project Clean Stream — the largest trash cleanup initiative in the Chesapeake Bay...

Resolve to do the best you can to advance clean water in 2018

As we start to turn the page on 2017, I wanted to brainstorm some ideas for resolutions we can share as a community for 2018. The new year is a time to reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished in the past year and to commit to new habits and practices moving...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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