Bay Journal

Opinion

36 years after first Bay Agreement, its restoration is still a pipe dream

December 9 marked the 36th anniversary of the signing of the first Bay Agreement at George Mason University in Virginia.

As a state senator serving on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, I joined 700 Bay enthusiasts as witnesses. The one-page Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed by Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania’s governors, DC’s mayor, and the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all of whom solemnly pledged to restore the Bay. I was also a member of a workgroup that recommended legislative actions for each signer that would aid the Bay’s restoration, including a phosphate detergent ban that I sponsored and was enacted in 1985.

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Goldfish bowling over Chesapeake’s habitat, species

If you have ever been out on the Chesapeake Bay and seen a familiar flash of orange beneath the water, you might have thought your eyes were playing tricks on you. But there’s a good chance that what you ere seeing is very much real.

That’s right: The Bay watershed is home to wild goldfish (Carassius auratus) — and this is not good news.

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Protect the Clean Water Act to ensure progress on Conowingo Dam

A healthy Chesapeake Bay means a healthy economy, and a full recovery cannot be accomplished without a strong, bipartisan federal commitment. That commitment includes respecting states’ rights under the Clean Water Act.

Section 401 is the single most powerful authority granted to states under the Clean Water Act. It establishes a unique “certification requirement” that allows states and authorized tribes to impose preconditions on, or block, certain types of federally issued permits and licenses. This certification requirement applies to any entity applying for a federal license or permit for “any activity” that “may result in a discharge” into waters of the United States.

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  • U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin
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Exelon dam agreement will give $200 million to MD, Bay cleanup efforts

On Oct. 29, Exelon Generation and Gov. Larry Hogan announced a historic agreement that will deliver $200 million in benefits to the state of Maryland and Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. 

Once federal regulators approve the agreement, it will create enforceable conditions in the Conowingo Dam’s operating license. Exelon has a proven track record of living up to its commitments, and that will continue here.

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Conowingo deal barely addresses PA runoff, imperiling cleanup

The Conowingo hydropower dam, the largest on the Susquehanna River, is poised to secure a federal license to operate for another 50 years.

Conowingo was built in 1928 to generate electricity for the regional power grid. Inadvertently, it long acted as a trap for nutrient and sediment pollution flowing down the Chesapeake Bay’s principal tributary. But over the years, sediment buildup in the dam’s reservoir significantly reduced its pollution-trapping capacity — so much so that the Chesapeake Bay Program estimates watershed states will need to cut an additional 6 million pounds of nitrogen and 260,000 pounds of phosphorus pollution to meet water quality goals in the Bay.

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2019 Watershed Forum a platform for collaboration, diverse voices

I write this article on the eve of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s 14th annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum. The late timing of this year’s forum — Nov. 15–17 — at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, offers me a unique opportunity to reflect on the gathering in the context of the last 11 months.

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Fox Island: Right where it should, and shouldn’t, have been

I was just 33 when I met her, turning 50. A 40-year relationship ensued — intimate, though I shared her with so many others. And now we’re parting.

It was educational.

The 11-bedroom lodge on Great Fox Island, built in 1929 amid protective tidal marshes at the juncture of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds, was a base for waterfowlers for her first half-century.

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We must save wildlife if we are ever going to save ourselves

There’s so much in Maryland that’s worth standing up for. Our “America in Miniature” is home to a rich diversity of natural features and wildlife.

From sailing around Annapolis and enjoying the beaches of the Eastern Shore, to hiking the Appalachian Trail and visiting state parks, Marylanders are lucky to have so many opportunities to experience the best that nature has to offer.

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Rachel Carson no stranger to the Chesapeake, its creatures

Some of the finest nature writing about the Chesapeake Bay scarcely mentions the great estuary by name and studiously avoids naming specific places. Its author, for years, chose not to use her given name, Rachel, presuming readers would think “R. L. Carson” male and more credible.

I don’t know why in her first book in 1941, Under the Sea Wind, the writer most famous for Silent Spring (1962) minimized the Chesapeake as the setting and inspiration for many of the delightful essays.

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PA legislators need to put the money where the boots are – on farms

Pennsylvania’s final watershed implementation plan to clean up the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and meet its commitments under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025 is under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Let’s be clear: The plan is inadequate in many ways. It doesn’t cut nitrogen pollution nearly enough, and there is a significant funding gap that legislators have not identified ways to fill. 

But for those who rightly worry about the state’s ability to meet its pollution reduction goals, I have some good news. Many Pennsylvania farmers get it. 

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WOW program helps female forest owners branch out

WOW: a palindrome that behaves like a verb, an interjection or a noun and is typically associated with great excitement, admiration or success.

For landowners in West Virginia, this word serves all three functions: the WV Women Owning Woodlands program, or WOW, is a budding group that provides opportunities for female landowners to learn about sustainable forest management, communicate their experiences and inspire natural resource stewardship on private lands.

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Opinion: Archives

EC meeting recognizes innovation, acknowledges work ahead

Once a year, members of the Chesapeake Executive Council gather together to discuss the successes and challenges of restoring the Chesapeake Bay. A mere 30 miles from the shores of the Bay, this year’s meeting site, Oxon Hill Manor,...

Delmarva Oasis protects what we see and what we may yet see

I spent my childhood in and around the Bay wading in our creek to catch soft crabs, trying to dip net yellow perch on their spring run, catching a mess of perch on peelers and papershells, and lazing around summer afternoons while swimming or...

Here’s a word to the wise on Chesapeake Bay: Full

In the beginning was the Word .… and the word was Full. So, I didn’t invent the foregoing writing technique; but sometimes it’s best to just begin at the beginning: Distill your focus to a word and probe the implications...

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Around the Watershed

PA program for inmates answers growing demand for green jobs

“I don’t want to say like I’m a tree lover because, you know, we do cut trees,” said Gregory Clegg, a professional tree climber in Hampton, VA. “It’s just something that I look at differently now, you know? And I think a lot of people would, if they...

Chesapeake Bay Program fueled by science, driven by partnership

For 35 years, the Chesapeake Bay Program has been the collaborating force behind Bay restoration. This December marks 35 years since the signing of the 1983 Chesapeake Bay Agreement. This agreement set up the Chesapeake Bay Program and started the monitoring network that has been at its...

As the tide rises against them, Deal Islanders hold their ground

A small country road, ambitiously designated a state highway, branches off U.S. Route 13 in the town of Princess Anne, MD, and meanders out into the marsh of the Eastern Shore. For 19 miles, the road travels through forests of loblolly pines before giving way to miles of marsh grass and...

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Chesapeake Born

Fox Island: Right where it should, and shouldn’t, have been

I was just 33 when I met her, turning 50. A 40-year relationship ensued — intimate, though I shared her with so many others. And now we’re parting. It was educational. The 11-bedroom lodge on Great Fox Island, built in 1929 amid protective tidal marshes at the juncture of...

Rachel Carson no stranger to the Chesapeake, its creatures

“…to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”   — R.L. Carson Some of the finest nature writing about the Chesapeake Bay scarcely mentions the great...

Ignoring science won’t make looming climate calamity go away

Always, I’ve assumed knowledge equals power. If you do the science that makes sense of a mysterious world, it enables you to comprehend your problems and you’ll eventually solve them. I’ve seen it work here on the Chesapeake Bay to restore rockfish, stabilize blue crabs,...

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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

36 years after first Bay Agreement, its restoration is still a pipe dream

December 9 marked the 36th anniversary of the signing of the first Bay Agreement at George Mason University in Virginia. As a state senator serving on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, I joined 700 Bay enthusiasts as witnesses. The one-page Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed by Maryland,...

Goldfish bowling over Chesapeake’s habitat, species

If you have ever been out on the Chesapeake Bay and seen a familiar flash of orange beneath the water, you might have thought your eyes were playing tricks on you. But there’s a good chance that what you ere seeing is very much real. That’s right: The Bay watershed is home to...

Exelon dam agreement will give $200 million to MD, Bay cleanup efforts

On Oct. 29, Exelon Generation and Gov. Larry Hogan announced a historic agreement that will deliver $200 million in benefits to the state of Maryland and Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.  Once federal regulators approve the agreement, it will create enforceable conditions in the...

Read more Forum »

Letters to the Editor

Time to swat the litterbug again

Hi citizens … who remembers “the litterbug?” Two generations ago, when empty bottles, cans, paper bags and cigarette butts littered our public places, sidewalks, trails, and roads as well as beaches and along the shores of rivers and streams, the litterbug campaign was...

Don’t just be a tree-hugger; our forests need no-net-loss heroes

Marylanders have an exciting opportunity right now to stake a claim in protecting our forested land. To protect the health and well-being of generations to come, we must pass the “No Net Loss” bill of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act. A lone tree can remove an average of 48...

Keep covering Fones Cliffs

I would like to thank the Bay Journal for continued, in-depth coverage of the damages and violations at Fones Cliffs along Virginia’s Rappahannock River. It is clear that many citizens across the Chesapeake landscape are concerned about what happens at this very special place rich in...

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Message from the Alliance

2019 Watershed Forum a platform for collaboration, diverse voices

I write this article on the eve of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s 14th annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum. The late timing of this year’s forum — Nov. 15–17 — at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, offers me a unique opportunity...

Correctional collaborative trains new generation of riparian buffer experts

On a sweltering July afternoon, a handful of conservation professionals walked through a cornfield toward a stream in Huntingdon County, PA. While that alone would be commonplace, this cadre was accompanied by a group that was far from ordinary: 20 inmates at Huntingdon State Correctional...

WOW program helps female forest owners branch out

WOW: a palindrome that behaves like a verb, an interjection or a noun and is typically associated with great excitement, admiration or success. For landowners in West Virginia, this word serves all three functions: the WV Women Owning Woodlands program, or WOW, is a budding group that...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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