Bay Journal

Opinion

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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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 region. 

For more than 15 years, the support provided by project has sustained the cleanup efforts of volunteers and groups, both big and small, throughout the watershed. Cleanup events receive support with free gloves, trash bags, first aid kits, safety vests, signage and assistance coordinating the project’s logistics.

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MDE must rethink lease of 46 years for Conowingo

The Maryland Department of the Environment public comment period for the Conowingo Dam Water Quality Certification renewal closed on Jan 15. The MDE certification is mandatory before Exelon reapplies for federal relicensing. (They have requested a 46-year lease term without any significant changes in how they operate.) This will set a precedent for the federal relicensing process. Here are our concerns:

We own and operate commercial oyster aquaculture operations in the Upper and Middle Bay regions, respectively. Through careful record-keeping, and discussions with those most knowledgeable with the dam’s operation, we feel its openings and closures have a direct and profound effect on our businesses and the aquaculture industry, as well as the public oyster fishery.

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Ajax Eastman cared more for planting seeds of conservation than earning laurels

The phone number sticks in my memory, the number I called the most in some 35 years of environmental reporting for the Baltimore Sun. It wasn’t the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or state departments of Environment or Natural Resources. It was the home of Ajax Eastman, who died this week of pneumonia at age 84.

Ajax was a mentor to a wet-behind-the-ears environmental journalist, a source of news and coffee and cookies, a sounding board, a dear friend.  Anyone who knew her and who worried about the Maryland environment slept better knowing she was on the case.

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MD’s Forest Conservation Act need to be revisited

Forest destruction in Maryland is a major concern of the state legislature this year and with good reason. We literally can’t live without woodlands. And we can’t save the Chesapeake Bay if development continues to bulldoze them — currently at the rate of more than 1,800 acres of forests a year. Luckily, a new bill in the legislature can help save some of the state’s best forests.

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Politics, Schmolitics—We All Want a Healthy Planet

A depressing myth about “the American people” has been debunked consistently in surveys among actual Americans.

The myth portrays U.S. citizens as pitted acrimoniously right against left, with no common ground between us and no interest in finding some.

Worse, it depicts Americans as hostile to our own homeland — happy to wreck our ecosystems, obliterate wildlife populations, public lands and water supplies; and eager to hand our fragile public coastal habitats over to destructive private drilling operations.

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Other actions needed before rushing to address climate’s effect on nutrients

I was among the first and have been among the most persistent scientific advocates for addressing climate change in our efforts to restore the Bay. Even so, I think that the recent decision of the Bay Program's Principal Staff Committee not to increase, at this time, the nutrient loads that must be reduced by 2025 to accommodate the effects of climate change is appropriate. 

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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...

Read more Around the Watershed »

Chesapeake Born

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...

Ajax Eastman cared more for planting seeds of conservation than earning laurels

The phone number sticks in my memory, the number I called the most in some 35 years of environmental reporting for the Baltimore Sun. It wasn’t the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state departments of Environment or Natural Resources. It was the home of Ajax Eastman,...

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

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...

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...

MDE must rethink lease of 46 years for Conowingo

The Maryland Department of the Environment public comment period for the Conowingo Dam Water Quality Certification renewal closed on Jan 15. The MDE certification is mandatory before Exelon reapplies for federal relicensing. (They have requested a 46-year lease term without any significant...

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

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...

You attract more landowners with birds, bees than TMDLs

On a warm Saturday morning this fall, more than 30 landowners gathered on a property in Baltimore County to learn a little about promoting the birds and the bees. Literally. The workshop, titled Get to Know Your Backyard Habitat, invited local residents to see an example of stellar...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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