Bay Journal

Opinion

Oligotrophication! A big word for even bigger news, a Bay comeback

It was a year ago, a sunny summer morning overlooking the Choptank River… We were discussing what it has all meant, studying the Chesapeake Bay for about 40 years with just retired University of Maryland scientists Walter Boynton and Michael Kemp.

Except they’re not sounding as retired as they should. Both have completed enviable careers; Walt’s dealing with leukemia and post-polio stuff, Mike with Parkinson’s disease. But like two old hounds, legs feeble but noses still keen, they’ve picked up the hot scent of a scientific mystery.

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To cure the Bay, take a healthy interest in your local stream

Many of us think of spring and summer as the time the birds start singing, flowers start blooming and the weather warms up.

In the water quality monitoring world, the season also means we are dusting off our secchi disks and getting our sampling equipment ready for a new monitoring season! At the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, we believe that water quality monitoring is essential to understanding the health of our waterways, land and people.

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Time and tide wait for no one when dealing with rising sea level

“Hey there, thanks for making my property worth even less.” You get these calls and emails when you make a movie that raises public awareness of climate change, rising sea levels and worsening erosion.

The collateral damage of such efforts is they don’t exactly boost housing values for those already living along the lower-lying edges of the Chesapeake.

The Bay Journal film I just finished with photographer Dave Harp and producer Sandy Cannon Brown — High Tide in Dorchester — shows how Maryland’s fourth largest county by land area could shrink to 14th (of 23) circa 2100 if we don’t get serious about mitigating climate change.

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‘Stopping rules’ would say when it’s time to shift from debating to acting

Science is hard, environmental policy is complicated and regulatory science can seem endlessly confounding.

It does not have to be. Earlier this year, the Chesapeake Bay partners stepped into a time-worn trap, heeding calls from overly cautious states to wait for more refined scientific modeling of climate change impacts before taking action to eliminate pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Having punted action until 2021 at the earliest, the Bay Partnership needs policies to prevent further delay. An innovative policy tool called “stopping rules” could be the answer.

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Data the new driver in conservation decisions regarding Bay

The Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation movement is nearly 50 years old. What started with advocacy and litigation, essential to galvanize action, has now fully entered the implementation and quantification phase. Partners throughout the watershed are focused on delivering results on-the-ground. We are witnessing the dawn of a new era for our society and the Bay movement: one where we regularly employ advanced technology and intense collaboration to move from an effort-based initiative to a results-oriented community. 

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Awareness Week offers a variety of activities to get Back to the Bay

When I sit back and think about my career — the things I’ve learned, opportunities that presented themselves and work that I’ve done — there is one thing that has been a constant driving force and focus —the Chesapeake Bay.

I didn’t grow up on the Chesapeake Bay proper, but I did grow up swimming and recreating on its rivers, the Potomac and the James. My favorite moments occur when I’ve been on the tidal waters, breathing in their salty air and resting among those tranquil breezes. 

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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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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...

Read more Around the Watershed »

Chesapeake Born

Oligotrophication! A big word for even bigger news, a Bay comeback

It was a year ago, a sunny summer morning overlooking the Choptank River… We were discussing what it has all meant, studying the Chesapeake Bay for about 40 years with just retired University of Maryland scientists Walter Boynton and Michael Kemp. Except they’re not sounding as...

Time and tide wait for no one when dealing with rising sea level

“Hey there, thanks for making my property worth even less.” You get these calls and emails when you make a movie that raises public awareness of climate change, rising sea levels and worsening erosion. The collateral damage of such efforts is they don’t exactly boost...

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...

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

‘Stopping rules’ would say when it’s time to shift from debating to acting

Science is hard, environmental policy is complicated and regulatory science can seem endlessly confounding. It does not have to be. Earlier this year, the Chesapeake Bay partners stepped into a time-worn trap, heeding calls from overly cautious states to wait for more refined scientific...

Data the new driver in conservation decisions regarding Bay

The Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation movement is nearly 50 years old. What started with advocacy and litigation, essential to galvanize action, has now fully entered the implementation and quantification phase. Partners throughout the watershed are focused on delivering results...

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...

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...

Read more Letters to the Editor »

Message from the Alliance

To cure the Bay, take a healthy interest in your local stream

Many of us think of spring and summer as the time the birds start singing, flowers start blooming and the weather warms up. In the water quality monitoring world, the season also means we are dusting off our secchi disks and getting our sampling equipment ready for a new monitoring season!...

Awareness Week offers a variety of activities to get Back to the Bay

When I sit back and think about my career — the things I’ve learned, opportunities that presented themselves and work that I’ve done — there is one thing that has been a constant driving force and focus —the Chesapeake Bay. I didn’t grow up on the...

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...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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