Bay Journal

May 1997 - Volume 7 - Number 3

2000 goals: Bay Program’s success is mixed

With only three and a half years left to meet its nutrient reduction goal, the Bay Program appears headed for a split judgment.

Computer model estimates show the states are on track to meet their goal for phosphorus, but unless cleanup efforts are significantly accelerated, they appear likely to miss the nitrogen goal by a wide margin.

The findings are not particularly surprising, as officials from the Bay states and federal agencies involved in the cleanup effort have recognized for some time that reducing levels of nitrogen - which is harder to control than phosphorus - is a daunting task. But information produced in recent weeks represents the first time the size of the shortfall has been predicted. ...

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40% of What?

Climate control

April showers bring May flowers. Well, not always. The climate of the Chesapeake Bay area, as elsewhere, varies from year to year as anyone living in the watershed the last few years can attest.

That variability, though, is more than just a conversation ice-breaker. Fluctuations in seasonal rainfall affect river flows into the Bay and can hinder nutrient reduction efforts aimed at restoring the Chesapeake ecosystem because nutrient flows into the Bay are closely tied to river discharge. ...

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Long-term Future Climate Change

Long-term Future Climate Change

Climate change is often headline news these days, in large part out of concern that the human emissions of greenhouse gases - notably carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other trace gases - may be altering the Earth's climate, leading to warmer atmospheric temperatures, rising sea level and other climatic anomalies.

Detecting this long-term climate change, though, requires that scientists first understand climate patterns that take place on an annual, or decadal, scale which cause great variability in temperature and rainfall. ...

Initiative will help local people protect wetlands

The Bay Program wants to get local citizens and governments to play a bigger role in accomplishing something state and federal agencies have not: halting the loss of wetlands.

 

A new "Wetlands Initiative" is intended to help people at the local level identify and protect important wetland areas before they are threatened by development. The initiative is not designed to replace existing regulatory programs, but to find areas that should get additional protection.

The initiative has grown from a realization by scientists, regulators and others that traditional regulatory programs by themselves are unlikely to achieve the Bay Program's goal of a "no net loss" for wetlands, much less its eventual objective of an increase in wetland acreage. ...

Zappers bugging the wrong insects

According to some entomologists, bug zappers are not only ineffective against biting bugs, but do more harm than good.

For instance, a study by the University of Delaware at Newark analyzed 13,789 insects zapped by electric traps and found only 31, less than one-fourth of 1 percent - were biting bugs "seeking blood meals at the expense of homeowners."

Nearly half were non-biting aquatic insects such as caddisflies and midges that feed fish, frogs, birds and bats, the study found. And another 14 percent were insects that actually attack pests, such as wasps, ground beetles and ladybugs. ...

Basin commissions should be emulated not eliminated

Did you know that during severe droughts, the freshwater inflow from the Susquehanna River to the Chesapeake Bay drops by as much as 50 percent because of human activities and consumption?

Did you know that in the Potomac basin, the federal government is the largest landowner, holding more than a million acres of land?

Some members of Congress feel that there is no federal interest in the commissions that manage and protect the water resources of the Susquehanna and Potomac River basins. They assert that the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) serve only the states, not the federal government. ...

Old Dominion team to search lower Chesapeake for deadly microorganisms

Old Dominion University scientists plan to search the lower Chesapeake Bay and its main tributaries in Virginia for a microorganism that has caused large fish kills in North Carolina.

Pfiesteria has been blamed for killing millions of fish and sickening several fishermen, divers and researchers who came in contact with the single-cell creature in North Carolina.

"In my opinion, pfiesteria is already in Virginia waters and it's only a matter of time before it produces a fish kill here," said Harold Marshall, a marine biologist at Old Dominion. "What we want to do is find out where in the Bay system these critters are and to see if there's a way to control them." ...

Paddle up! Grab your oars and join the Alliance on a canoe trip

Discover Chesapeake's rivers and creeks. Join the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay on a canoe trip to learn more about the resources that make up the Bay and its watershed. The 1997 schedule is:

  • Swatara Creek. (May 17, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.) Explore 10 miles of Pennsylvania's Swatara Creek in Lebanon and Schuylkill counties. Enjoy miles of forested streamside paddling through Swatara State Park, site of a proposed dam. Learn about historical and environmental issues regarding this project and other recreation and conservation efforts in the watershed. Beginner level.

    ...

USDA launches national buffer initiative

Farmers throughout the Bay states reacted enthusiastically to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative aimed at taking the most environmentally sensitive farmlands out of production.

The Chesapeake Bay was one of four key areas the department targeted to benefit in the redesigned Conservation Reserve Program, which makes annual payments to farmers to take land out of production that is highly erodible, a cropped wetland, adjacent to a noncropped wetland, or will be devoted to a streamside buffer. ...

Bay state’s farms sign up to protect sensitive lands

The Chesapeake Executive Council - consisting of the the governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the administrator of the EPA and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative advisory panel - set a 40 percent nutrient reduction goal in the 1987 Bay Agreement.

Excess amounts of nutrients spur algae blooms in the Bay that block sunlight to important Bay grasses, which provide habitat and food for fish, blue crabs, waterfowl and other species. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by many aquatic species. ...

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USDA launches national buffer initiative

Tougher Canada air rules will benefit United States, Bay

It appears that the Chesapeake Bay will benefit from some anticipated clean air rules, at least from outside the United States.

While the debate over the EPA's proposed new air standards continues in the United States, Canada is enacting clean air rules even tougher than those being proposed here.

In fact, in a highly unusual move, Canada submitted comments on the U.S. rules, saying the EPA proposal was too lax and "will continue to result in health damages and death." Canada's comments were based on a scientific examination of the issues by its own pollution control authorities. ...

Bay states give EPA air proposal mixed reviews

The Chesapeake Executive Council - consisting of the the governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the administrator of the EPA and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative advisory panel - set a 40 percent nutrient reduction goal in the 1987 Bay Agreement.

Excess amounts of nutrients spur algae blooms in the Bay that block sunlight to important Bay grasses, which provide habitat and food for fish, blue crabs, waterfowl and other species. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by many aquatic species. ...

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Tougher Canada air rules will benefit United States, Bay

Anacostia River Earth Day Celebration

More than 1,200 students from 14 schools in the Anacostia Watershed turned out for the "Anacostia River Earth Day Celebration" April 22 which eatured an appearance by Vice President Al Gore.

Gore met with many of the students, thanking them for their efforts in iver and neighborhood cleanups. Participants also engaged in tree planting and variety of activities and exhibits dealing with the protection of the nacostia River and the Chesapeake Bay. Woodsy Owl, Bill Nye, the television Science Guy" and others also made presentations. ...

Going out on a limb for Arbor Day

Tall, small, leafy and bare-rooted trees were planted along rivers and streams in every Bay jurisdiction during April as the Bay Program conducted events in conjunction with Arbor Day celebrations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The projects were aimed at increasing public awareness of the Bay Program goal to restore and plant 2,010 miles of streamside forests by the year 2010.

The events began April 1 in the District of Columbia's Anacostia neighborhood with students from Kramer Middle School planting two Yoshino cherry trees on the school grounds to celebrate the district's Arbor Day. ...

Calling all Bay-related web sites

The Bay Journal plans to publish a directory of Bay-related sites on the World Wide Web in an upcoming issue.

The directory will provide an opportunity for local, state and federal government agencies; colleges and research institutions; and citizen, watershed and environmental organizations to publicize their web site and what information they have to offer users.

To be included, here is the information we need:

  • Name of the organization, agency, or institution
  • A 25-50 word description of the organization, agency or institution and its Bay-related activities.
  • A 50-75 word description of the type of information that is available at the web site.
  • The web site address
  • The phone number and e-mail address of the person responsible for maintaining the web site.

The information should be e-mailed to: webmaster@chesie.ann.epa.gov ...

Pending in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania General Assembly meets for two years, and the 1987-88 session began in January. Thus, little environmental legislative activity has occurred though several bills - mainly ones not acted on in the last session - have been introduced.

The proposed Wetland Conservation and Management Act, similar to bills introduced previously, would create a wetland classification system to rank wetlands by function and give them varying degrees of protection.

There is also growing interest in growth management in the most rapidly developing areas of the state, and several bills aimed at improving local planning and promoting regional planning have been introduced. ...

Environmental Issues in the 1997 Virginia General Assembly

Water Quality Monitoring: In response to a study that was sharply critical of the state's water protection programs completed last fall by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the General Assembly passed legislation to expand the Department of Environmental Quality's water-monitoring program and to make its information more available. Under the legislation, the DEQ must develop a plan and schedule to improve monitoring, examine more miles of river and test for more pollutants. The law, whose chief patron was Chesapeake Bay Commission member Senator Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr., also requires the DEQ to restore the annual publication of a toxics release inventory, develop plans to improve waters identified as "impaired," and make water quality information available to the public. Finally, owners of facilities that discharge toxics to impaired waters are required to evaluate pollution-prevention mechanisms. To support additional stream monitoring, the assembly approved an $800,000 budget increase. ...

Va. approves $15 million for Bay cleanup effort

In a move to accelerate the Chesapeake cleanup effort, the Virginia General Assembly approved $15 million to curb runoff pollution and to help local governments upgrade wastewater treatment plants.

The money, requested by Gov. George Allen late last year, will help pay for nutrient reduction efforts outlined in "tributary strategies" being developed for each of the Bay's major tributaries. The assembly also approved a new program to allow citizens to donate to Bay restoration efforts. ...

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Environmental Issues in the 1997 Virginia General Assembly

Environmental Issues in the 1997 Maryland General Assembly

Air Pollution Control: The General Assembly approved a bill that would keep Maryland's treadmill emissions test voluntary, rather than allowing the program to become mandatory as was supposed to happen June 1. The EPA has said the state's current tailpipe emissions testing will not meet federal clean air standards. Penalties could include a federal takeover of the state's auto emissions program, the loss of $54 million in federal highway funds and the requirement that every time the state adds a new business, it must eliminate twice as much pollution as the company generates. ...

Md. enacts sweeping growth management law

Acting on the last day of its legislative session, Maryland lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to put state funding power behind efforts to curb sprawl development and protect farms and forests.

The "Smart Growth" initiative championed by Gov. Parris Glendening prohibits the state from paying for roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure improvements in areas unless they are specifically designated as growth areas.

"This will give us probably the strongest growth management program in the country except for Oregon," Glendening said. He added that Maryland will be the first state to use its funding to encourage local officials to direct growth to particular areas rather than try to pass laws that give state government control over zoning decisions. ...

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Environmental Issues in the 1997 Maryland General Assembly

Bill would keep Bay Program running through 2003

The Chesapeake Executive Council - consisting of the the governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the administrator of the EPA and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative advisory panel - set a 40 percent nutrient reduction goal in the 1987 Bay Agreement.

Excess amounts of nutrients spur algae blooms in the Bay that block sunlight to important Bay grasses, which provide habitat and food for fish, blue crabs, waterfowl and other species. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by many aquatic species. ...

Legislators ask colleagues to support Bay initiatives

Lawmakers from the Bay states are calling on their colleagues to fully support Bay restoration efforts by funding Chesapeake-related activities at - or above - levels requested in the president's 1998 budget request.

The letters, produced by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., call the Bay Program "a model of effective partnerships between federal, state, and local governments" and seek continued support for the Chesapeake offices of three agencies, the EPA, the Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ...

Games to help bridge gap between kids, Bay

Children riding across Maryland's Eastern Shore en route to the shore this summer will have a chance to learn about the Chesapeake Bay.

Toll collectors at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will distribute the "Maryland Bay Game" to children, who can play it while traveling the major routes between the bridge and Ocean City.

The game, produced by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is designed to be played from the car's back seat during the 2 1/2 hour trip.

Players are challenged to find Bay-related things, such as an osprey nest, wetlands, farm fields and forest buffers, as they make the trip. As these items are found, players take stickers from the centerfold of the 24-page booklet and place them on matching symbols. The first several sites will be marked with temporary road signs. ...

Shad get a big lift on Susquehanna

Last month, a giant hopper began scooping water - 5,000 gallons at a time - out of the Susquehanna River at the base of the Holtwood Dam. The water was hoisted to the top of the dam, located just north of the Pennsylvania border, and released into a trough extending across the top.

On April 18, the first day of the hopper's operation, biologists observed something that had not taken place since construction of the dam began in 1905 - an American shad swam past.

"It was a milestone," said Roland Moor, environmental manager at Holtwood. "The first one that went through here on Friday was the first one in almost 100 years." ...

40% of What?

A sharp observer may note that the 74 million pound nitrogen reduction goal is not 40 percent of the 353 pounds entering the Bay in 1985. Nor, for that matter is the 9 million pound phosphorus reduction goal a 40 percent reduction from the 1985 total of 25 million pounds.

So just where is this 40 percent nutrient reduction?

The answer is that the 40 percent agreed upon in 1987 was not based on the total amount of nutrients entering the Bay. Rather, it was based on 40 percent of the controllable amount of nutrients entering the Chesapeake. ...

Ward Oyster Co.

Opinion

Ernst Conservation Seeds: Restoring the Native Balance.
A Documentary Inspired by William W. Warner’s 1976 Exploration of Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay.

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