Bay Journal

Opinion

Rolling back Clean Water rules would devastate the Potomac, Bay

For nearly 50 years, the Clean Water Act’s definition of which water bodies across the country are protected from pollution enabled states and local communities to safeguard our nation’s rivers, streams, wetlands and other waterways.

The value of clean water was broadly appreciated and understood. President George W. Bush implemented his father’s vision of no net loss of wetlands. President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency sought to clarify and simplify the definition of “Waters of the United States” in 2015 to protect invaluable sources of drinking water and critical wildlife habitat.

But now, in the blink of an eye, President Trump’s EPA threatens to undo all of the progress we’ve made cleaning up and protecting our nation’s treasured waters.

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Going native? Let experts help you find the best plants for your needs

There are few things more exciting than a garden awakening in spring with a buzz of activity. In May, many of us in the Chesapeake region are patiently waiting for serviceberry, milkweed, phlox and other plants to bloom and lure pollinators and other wildlife to our native gardens.

Some of us are planning how to expand our native gardens to extend their seasonal interest, attract more wildlife, and/or reduce lawns and other high-maintenance landscapes.

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Reopen CREP: Help a farmer and you help the Chesapeake

In the most recent Bay Barometer report released by the Chesapeake Bay Program, one metric tracking progress toward a healthy Bay stands out: With a goal to plant forested buffers along 900 miles of streams each year, the Bay states in 2017 planted just 56 miles. It was the lowest annual planting total in 22 years.

Forested streamside buffers remain one of the most cost-effective ways to cut pollution from agricultural lands, trapping soil, manure and fertilizers before they can flow downstream to the Bay. The woeful lag in planting spells big trouble for the states as they design their final plans to meet federally mandated pollution reductions in the Bay by 2025.

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Bay Program’s 2017-18 Bay Barometer shows Chesapeake’s resilience

Pick up any article about the health of the Chesapeake these days and you are sure to see the term “resilient.” It’s become the trendy way of saying that despite pollution continuing to run off into the Bay and extreme weather events, the Bay is thriving.

From record acreage of underwater grasses to an unprecedented effort to restore oysters, experts are cautiously optimistic that the Chesapeake is bouncing back. The Bay Program’s 2017-18 Bay Barometer provides the science and data to back up this sentiment.

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Yorktown coffee roaster brews up support for the Bay in its community

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay believes that the best way to restore the Bay is by forging strong, diverse partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders — including businesses.

The Alliance works with businesses that are already environmental stewards, as well as those that require some guidance and support in their efforts. Members of our Businesses for the Bay program not only work to protect and restore the Chesapeake and its watershed’s rivers and streams, but help to foster environmental stewards in the workplace.

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Go big or ‘no home’: We need green amendments in state constitutions

In August 2018, the Maryland Environmental Health Network and its membership of impacted residents in the community, health advocates and environmental activists came together to strategize on ways to confront the root causes of climate and health threats in our state. Among other ideas, we decided to raise our collective voice in favor of bold action. What developed was a proposal for an addition to the state constitution, now known as the Healthy Green Maryland Amendment. 

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How can we save oysters if we harvest them faster than they reproduce?

This year’s Maryland General Assembly session marks a critical juncture for Chesapeake Bay oysters. Policies under debate in the halls of the legislature will chart the course for oysters’ next 100 years. Now is the time to make the changes necessary to protect the oyster.

Before the session, the bad news arrived. In November, the state released the first comprehensive stock assessment of Maryland oysters. It found that the bivalves’ population had declined by half since 1999 — from about 600 million adult oysters to the current population of 300 million. 

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Your local Project Stream Cleanup needs you this spring!

As I reach the halfway point for my Chesapeake Conservation Corps year with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, I find myself reflecting on what it is that has made my past six months so special.

A large number of the great memories comes from the amazing people I work with, as well as the gratifying, hands-on work that I get to be a part of, including attending Project Clean Stream events around the watershed.

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Lure of mainland tugs at roots – and hearts – of Smith Islanders

In the spring of 1987, I made the best move of my life — to remote Smith Island, MD, whose fisherfolk had endured for more than three centuries, 10 miles offshore in the center of Chesapeake Bay.

It never crossed my mind I’d end up making a book on the place, An Island Out of Time (W. W. Norton, 1997), and now a short film of the same name. The new Bay Journal production, An Island Out of Time, which I created with Sandy Cannon-Brown and Dave Harp, debuts at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital in March and airs at 8 p.m. April 23 on Maryland Public Television. 

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Healthy trees, forests are great cure for what ails the Chesapeake Bay

Trees are, indeed, quite remarkable. They are integral to air and water quality as well as a source of water, mitigation for stormwater and control for erosion and sediment.

One hundred mature trees can remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide annually, along with 430 pounds of other air pollutants, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

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Trickle up effect: Reducing Bay’s nitrogen will lower greenhouse gas level

A tale of two gases: both colorless, odorless and essential to life; now also both imperiling life as humans boost them to unnatural levels.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) gets the most press, though it’s a mere trace of Earth’s overall atmosphere, at about .04 percent. But that’s now around 40 percent higher than natural, enough to risk calamitous climate change if we don’t soon change our habits.

Nitrogen virtually is the atmosphere, some 78 percent of it.

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Opinion: Archives

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...

How can we understand a Chesapeake we’ve never seen?

“Why will you ask for other glories when you have soft crabs?” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, chiding Baltimore in an 1860 essay Nowadays, around 350 million to 450 million blue crabs inhabit Chesapeake Bay, according to accurate...

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Around the Watershed

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...

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...

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Chesapeake Born

When it came to the Bay, Hughes was more than up to the challenge

“Harry Hughes Horton.” Sounds good, don’t ya think? A missed opportunity that I’ll explain in a bit. I always had a soft spot for Harry R. Hughes, Maryland’s governor from 1979 to 1987, who died March 13 at age 92. We both grew up in rural Caroline county, born...

Lure of mainland tugs at roots – and hearts – of Smith Islanders

In the spring of 1987, I made the best move of my life — to remote Smith Island, MD, whose fisherfolk had endured for more than three centuries, 10 miles offshore in the center of Chesapeake Bay. It never crossed my mind I’d end up making a book on the place, An Island Out of...

Trickle up effect: Reducing Bay’s nitrogen will lower greenhouse gas level

A tale of two gases: both colorless, odorless and essential to life; now also both imperiling life as humans boost them to unnatural levels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) gets the most press, though it’s a mere trace of Earth’s overall atmosphere, at about .04 percent. But that’s...

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

Rolling back Clean Water rules would devastate the Potomac, Bay

For nearly 50 years, the Clean Water Act’s definition of which water bodies across the country are protected from pollution enabled states and local communities to safeguard our nation’s rivers, streams, wetlands and other waterways. The value of clean water was broadly...

Reopen CREP: Help a farmer and you help the Chesapeake

In the most recent Bay Barometer report released by the Chesapeake Bay Program, one metric tracking progress toward a healthy Bay stands out: With a goal to plant forested buffers along 900 miles of streams each year, the Bay states in 2017 planted just 56 miles. It was the lowest annual...

Bay Program’s 2017-18 Bay Barometer shows Chesapeake’s resilience

Pick up any article about the health of the Chesapeake these days and you are sure to see the term “resilient.” It’s become the trendy way of saying that despite pollution continuing to run off into the Bay and extreme weather events, the Bay is thriving. From record...

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...

Read more Letters to the Editor »

Message from the Alliance

Going native? Let experts help you find the best plants for your needs

There are few things more exciting than a garden awakening in spring with a buzz of activity. In May, many of us in the Chesapeake region are patiently waiting for serviceberry, milkweed, phlox and other plants to bloom and lure pollinators and other wildlife to our native gardens. Some of...

Yorktown coffee roaster brews up support for the Bay in its community

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay believes that the best way to restore the Bay is by forging strong, diverse partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders — including businesses. The Alliance works with businesses that are already environmental stewards, as well as those that...

Your local Project Stream Cleanup needs you this spring!

As I reach the halfway point for my Chesapeake Conservation Corps year with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, I find myself reflecting on what it is that has made my past six months so special. A large number of the great memories comes from the amazing people I work with, as well as the...

Read more Message from the Alliance »

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