Bay Journal

Whitney Pipkin

Bacterial monitoring goes mobile in and around the District

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When Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks speaks to groups about his work, he often fields a question that, until now, he hasn’t been able to answer: “Is it safe to go in the river?”

“I’ve been very uncomfortable answering that question because we never had data,” Naujoks said, looking out across the Potomac from a dock at Maryland’s National Harbor. “This area had almost zero...

Snorkel, paddle or fish at RiverPalooza summer events

Taking a bridge across the Potomac River on the way to work isn’t the same as plunging a paddle into the water, seeing its beauty and benefits up close. But only a fraction of the more than 6 million people living in the District of Columbia’s metro area get onto the water each year.

That’s why the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, with the help of partners like the National Park...

Microplastics are everywhere, but how do they harm the Bay?

Extremely small bits of plastic are everywhere, and the Chesapeake Bay is no exception. The so-called microplastics, often 5 millimeters or less in size, can be scooped from the surface waters of the Patapsco River and combed from the Bay’s underwater grass beds.

Microplastics that originated as tiny beads in some face scrubs, soaps and toothpastes are now banned by federal law....

Fones Cliffs property to be preserved

For more than a decade, an empty blue house perched on the edge of an otherwise houseless sweep of cliffs along the Rappahannock River loomed as a symbol of its future — which included plans for two housing developments in an ecologically and historically significant area of Virginia’s Northern Neck. But, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completes its purchase of that Fones...

Livestock fencing needs to pick up pace in Shenandoah Valley

Time seems to slow down in the Shenandoah Valley, where the pastoral act of raising livestock for a living appears as unchanged by the years as the emerald-green hills on either side of Interstate 81. But almost a decade has passed since Virginia first set a goal to have farmers build fences along nearly every Chesapeake Bay-bound stream that livestock could otherwise access in the...

Rick Middleton, founder of Charlottesville-based SELC, retires

Rick Middleton didn’t fancy himself an environmental lawyer when he graduated from Yale Law School in 1971. That category didn’t exist.

The United States had only just commemorated its first Earth Day, and the future founder of the Southern Environmental Law Center still felt like a fish out of water in New England’s semi-industrial corridor, pining for the bucolic valleys around...

Coal ash contaminated groundwater at almost all monitored sites

Just after Virginia legislators voted to end the storage of coal ash in pits where it could leach into groundwater and rivers, a report released in March revealed widespread coal-ash contamination in 39 states — and at more than 91 percent of the power plants monitored. They include sites in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The report by Earthjustice and the Environmental...

Community conversations aim to broaden visitor experience at Piscataway Park

​In the heavily wooded acres of Piscataway Park, on Maryland’s shore of the Potomac River, is a popular collection of cattle, sheep, hogs and plants — with breeds and varieties commonly found on local farms in the 1700s. Along with costumed interpreters, they bring to life a recreated colonial farm established there in 1958, complete with a farmhouse and tobacco barn.

But the...

White Horse Mountain worth the millions paid to protect it

Hugging the slow s-curves of road winding into a mountainous sliver of West Virginia’s Hampshire County, I remembered why they call this portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed “wild” — and why clean water advocates were desperate to keep it that way.

I was headed to White Horse Mountain, an almost entirely tree-covered heap of rocky hills hugging and draining into the South...

Virginia town partners with Randolph-Macon College to restore local stream

When his mother asked him what he got on his final exam, an environmental studies student at Randolph-Macon College gave her an unexpected answer: “$100,000.”

Technically, he wasn’t lying. As a member of Professor Charles “Chas” Gowan’s 2007 class, the student’s final exam was to present to the town council of Ashland, VA, a plan he and his classmates created to restore a degraded...

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About Whitney Pipkin

Whitney Pipkin's avatar Whitney Pipkin writes at the intersection of food, agriculture and the environment from her home base in Northern Virginia. Her work for the Bay Journal often focuses on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, and she is a fellow of the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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