Bay Journal

Karl Blankenship

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population remains stable

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Blue crab abundance has decreased from 2017, but remains near its long-term average level, according to results from a closely watched survey released Wednesday.

The annual winter dredge survey showed that the total number of crabs and the number of spawning-age females are down from last year, while the number of juveniles has ticked upward.

Results would have been better,...

SAV’s comeback is so spectacular, we’ve grounds to be positive

One thing that has often proved true for the Chesapeake Bay is that, as often than not, good news is the prelude to bad news.

The apparent comeback of a fish species is followed by a spawning collapse. Improved water quality is followed by the smothering impacts of a hurricane. A treasured stream is compromised by development.

So it makes me nervous to report that underwater...

Bay ag conservation programs await details of pending Farm Bill

Congress has started to debate how to direct hundreds of billions of dollars to implement the nation’s farm and nutrition policies in the coming years, and the outcome could have a major impact on Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.

That’s because the massive legislation being crafted, known as the Farm Bill, is also the biggest source of funding to help farmers throughout the Bay...

Bay’s underwater grasses surge beyond 100,000 acres for first time in ages

The Chesapeake’s underwater grasses — critical havens for everything from blue crabs to waterfowl — surged to a new record high last year, surpassing 100,000 acres for the first time in recent history.

“I never thought we would ever see that,” said Bob Orth, a researcher with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who has overseen the annual Baywide underwater grass survey since...

States will have to account for climate change in cleanup plans

States in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have agreed to write plans later this year that will acknowledge the extent to which climate change will require significantly more work in the future to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

In December, state and federal officials in the Chesapeake Bay Program had agreed that the scheduled updates to state-specific cleanup plans would outline ways...

States to collaborate on implementation plan for Conowingo

For years, the 94-foot-high Conowingo Dam was considered a “time bomb” looming over Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, as it would begin spilling more water-fouling nutrients downstream when its 14-mile-long reservoir stopped trapping pollution.

But that was always considered a problem for the future. So, the challenge of defusing the “bomb,” located on the Susquehanna River in...

In our darkest hour, you were there to highlight what we do

It came a total shock last August when a curt, two-sentence email informed us that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was terminating a grant that provides about 40 percent of the Bay Journal’s funding.

We’d been told only a few weeks earlier that our funding for the current year was already in the works. Then — to everyone’s surprise — a political appointee intervened, and...

Nutrient reductions credited for resurgence in Bay’s underwater grasses

Nutrient reductions over the last 30 years are the primary factor behind the resurgence of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake — something that scientists cite in a new study as tangible evidence that efforts to improve Bay water quality are paying off.

Seagrass beds are in decline globally, but the Chesapeake Bay is one of the few places — and the largest example — where that...

Most watershed residents unaware of their role in pollution

About 85 percent of Chesapeake Bay watershed residents think that people working together can fix local water quality problems. Unfortunately, most of them have little idea of what they can do to help and — somewhat contradictorily — only 35 percent agree that their own actions contribute to local water pollution.

Those findings come from a survey of 5,200 watershed residents...

New federal budget keeps funds for Bay Program at steady level

​Congress rejected the Trump administration’s call to eliminate funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program — or make other steep environmental cuts — and instead voted to maintain steady funding levels for the state-federal partnership.

The spending plan, approved by Congress and signed by the president March 23, funds the government for rest of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It...

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About Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship's avatar

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and Executive Director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991, winning numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the 2001 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation; in 2006 he became the fourth person to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Before the Bay Journal, he was a reporter at the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, and the Saginaw (MI) News. He is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in journalism.

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