Bay Journal

William H. Funk

James spinymussel population approaching rock bottom

Lead story image

Mussels. Aside from some marine species appearing occasionally on menus, what do we really know about them? Freshwater members of this group of bivalves are perhaps the most obscure members of the Chesapeake Bay area’s waterways: camouflaged filter feeders dependent on whatever flows their way.

Logging trucks and even casual hikers unknowingly crush them as they splash over...

Farm, its customers know the price of organic meat, produce

It’s not always easy to be the “most famous farmer in America,” a title bestowed on Joel Salatin by the Washington Post in 2013.

Salatin’s Polyface Farm, set amid the trundling hills of Shenandoah Valley’s Augusta County in Virginia, has for many years been a magnet for discerning buyers of pricey organic farm-to-table produce.

He’s written 11 books and been featured in such...

Cow Knob salamander fended off pipeline; can it beat climate change?

The little Cow Knob salamander, with its wide eyes and gentle grin, stared down a giant energy company and forced it to detour its proposed natural gas pipeline around the creature’s home turf in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia.

But the shy amphibian with the Mona Lisa smile still faces an uncertain future from an even more relentless foe — climate change.

Named for a high...

Trauma center provides creature comforts for injured, ailing animals

Tucked away on the outskirts of sleepy Waynesboro, VA, there’s a bustling trauma center for sick and injured wildlife. Think “M*A*S*H” with feathers and fur, featuring the tough triage decisions doctors have to make upon admitting new patients. But here, the patient list is wildly diverse: On any given day, the Wildlife Center of Virginia might see a listless bear cub brought in...

If you see a sea turtle in the Chesapeake, consider yourself very lucky

Sea turtles, large and lovable to their fans, have endured a long decline around the world and in the Chesapeake Bay. But a team of international scientists has delivered a bit of good news, at least on a global scale.

The results of their study, published in the September issue of Science Advances, show that some species of sea turtles, after years of decline from harvesting...

Shenandoah Valley hot spot of solar co-ops lighting up VA

The central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is rapidly becoming a hot spot for solar cooperatives, as new alternative energy opportunities attract a wide cross-section of homeowners eager to strike out on their own with renewable electricity.

The Mountain & Valley Solar Co-op closed itself to new members on July 19, capping out at 118 households in the western portions of Augusta...

A few rays of hope - and another major setback for VA pipeline opponents

The multi-billion-dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas conduit that has been proposed to cross environmentally sensitive areas in Virginia, continues to move through the regulatory process, though several new developments offer environmentalists and private landowners cause for cautious optimism.

On Oct. 13, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave formal approval...

Peregrine falcons slow to return to Appalachia

Able to dive after avian prey at a shrieking 200 miles per hour, the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on Earth. Yet the return of the peregrine to its historic habitat in the western Chesapeake region has been anything but speedy.

After their numbers were decimated in the mid-20th century by DDT pesticide poisoning, peregrines have made a strong comeback in Eastern urban...

Holy smoke! Sometimes a fire is just what a forest needs

On a bright spring morning, in the Mills Creek area of the George Washington National Forest, flames crept slowly up the far end of a mountain ridge.

The whitish smoke grew in volume and depth as the unseen fire, pushed by a slow but steady breeze, climbed steadily skyward.

U.S. Forest Service personnel watched the billowing smoke, but made no move to quell the spreading...

PA approves one natural gas pipeline; VA agency questions another

A controversial natural gas pipeline through a portion of Pennsylvania’s Bay watershed cleared a major hurdle last week, not long after another contentious pipeline proposed through Virginia drew expressions of concern from that state’s conservation agency.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued two permits on Wednesday to the builder of the...

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About William H. Funk

William H. (Bill) Funk is a freelance environmental journalist whose work for the Bay Journal centers on wildlife, forestry, rivers, farming and other land use issues in the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

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