News, notes and observations from the Bay Journal staff.
Maryland is getting closer to at least a temporary moratorium on the killing of cownose rays in bowfishing contests, a summer pastime that has angered animal-rights groups and as well as many fishermen.
By a vote of 119 to 21, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed HB 211 Wednesday, which would impose a moratorium on such contests until July 1, 2019, and require the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to prepare a fisheries management plan by Dec. 31, 2018.
The House action comes a month after the state Senate voted, 46-0, to pass SB 268, which would bar bowfishing contests for rays through July 1, 2018, and require the DNR to develop its management plan a year earlier than called for under the House bill.
Maryland’s House of Delegates voted Friday to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, while also approving a Hogan administration bill that would let the state invest in potentially less costly ways of reducing stormwater pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay.
The fracking ban, approved on a 97 to 40 vote, comes after a six-year debate over whether to allow the controversial energy extraction technique in the state. More than a dozen counties and cities adopted local ordinances or resolutions to ban fracking, and opponents have staged several rallies in Annapolis since the legislative session began in January.
Last Thanksgiving, the Maryland Natural Resources Police got something for which they could truly be thankful: A helicopter.
After seven years with no eyes in the sky, the NRP got its 1972 Bell Jet Ranger back. The police aviation unit, founded nearly 70 years ago, had been eliminated by the previous administration in a cost-cutting move in 2009, and the helicopter was transferred to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
But restoring the NRP’s aerial mobility was a priority of Mark Belton, the current natural resources secretary. So he reacquired the copter and had it refurbished for $158,000, according to NRP spokeswoman Candy Thomson. Named Natural 1, it was pressed into service almost immediately, helping the NRP catch oyster and deer poachers and assisting with search-and-rescue missions.
Now, though, after just four months, the NRP, an arm of DNR, is in jeopardy of losing its helicopter again.
Tips from veteran Chesapeake Bay photographer Dave Harp about how to capture the perfect images from your outdoor travels.
I always try to get out and make some photos on the solstices and equinoxes, and an assignment to illustrate a story about Trap Pond allowed me to chase the morning light there a few hours after this year’s Autumnal equinox. It’s an amazingly beautiful patch of wild Delaware near Laurel and will be featured in the November issue of the Bay Journal. The pond, created in the 18th century to power a saw mill to convert the trees into board feet of lumber, is the epicenter of the northern most stand of bald cypress trees in the United States. The relatively young trees in the middle of the pond were planted in the 1930’s when the water level was drawn down to allow the trees to grow. Once they’re heads are above the water they seem to do fine in an aquatic environment. Be sure to look for a more complete story about Trap Pond State Park by Tom Horton in the November issue of the Bay Journal.
Bundle up and take advantage of the opportunities for great photos provided the the crisp air, and low angle of sunlight, during winter months.
While cameras have changed much over the past century, one ingredient of good photos has remained largely the same — the tripod.